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.

Here is a comprehensive guide to the many different government benefits available to families with special needs.

1. Medicaid: 

Medicaid is a government-funded healthcare program that is available to families and individuals with limited income. Children with special needs may qualify for Medicaid based on their disability status or family income. Medicaid provides a wide range of benefits, including doctor visits, hospitalizations, prescription medications, and therapy services. Medicaid can also cover assistive technology devices and home healthcare services.

2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI):

SSI is a program that provides financial assistance to individuals with disabilities who have limited income and resources. Children with special needs may qualify for SSI from birth, depending on their level of disability. SSI payments can be used to cover the cost of food, housing, transportation, and other basic living expenses. Additionally, families who receive SSI may also qualify for Medicaid benefits.

3. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):

SSDI is a program for individuals who have worked in the past and have become disabled. Children may be eligible for SSDI benefits if they have a disabled parent who has worked enough to have Social Security credits. The child’s benefit amount will depend on the parent’s work history and earnings. These benefits can provide financial assistance to families and help cover the additional costs of raising a child with special needs.

4. Education Services:

Children with special needs are entitled to a free and appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Education services can include special education classes, therapy services, and assistive technology devices. These services can help children with special needs reach their full potential and succeed in school.

5. Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC):

The WOTC is a tax credit available to employers who hire individuals from certain targeted groups, including individuals with disabilities. If you are a parent of a child with special needs who is entering the workforce, encourage their potential employer to consider this tax credit. The WOTC can provide a significant financial incentive for employers to hire individuals with disabilities, which can lead to better job opportunities for your child.