What government benefit programs are available to assist individuals with special needs?

There are many government benefits available to individuals with special needs, and they vary significantly from state to state. Some of the major programs are:

  • Medicaid, which provides basic medical care to low-income individuals. Most states also have “waiver” Medicaid programs covering residential, day care, career, and other services.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which provides funds for food and shelter to individuals with disabilities. To qualify, a person must have less than $2,000 in “countable assets.”
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which requires that participants have been unable to work for at least a year due to their disability. Benefits are based on the individual’s income history and the number of quarters they have worked and contributed to the program.
  • Disabled Adult Child (DAC), which requires a determination that the onset of the participant’s disability occurred before age 22, that the person is unmarried, and that the participant has a parent who has a disability, is retired or deceased and who qualifies for Social Security him/herself.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps), which has eligibility guidelines similar to SSI.
  • Section 8 Housing, which subsidizes residential rents for families for low-income families, which may include those with special needs. Eligibility is based on a sliding scale that considers income and family size.