Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Public Benefits: A Holistic Guide for Families Who Have a Loved One with Special Needs

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Public Benefits: A Holistic Guide for Families Who Have a Loved One with Special Needs

Article excerpt

Many important benefits are outlined below, but not all. Also, effort has been made to point out important aspects of the programs, but outlining every detailed exception, rule, etc., is beyond the scope of this informational guide. For context, most of these programs are "means-tested," which means they are usually not available until the child turns 18 because up until that point the parents' assets and income are taken into account, which is often too high to qualify.


* Individuals may be eligible for SSI if they do not have "substantial gainful activity" (SGA) and a disability. SGA is defined as earning less than $1170/month (or $1950/month if blind).

* SSI payment is up to $735/month. It can be less for various reasons such as the individual living at home. Some states also have a state supplement program (SSP) which gives the SSI recipient a smaller additional payment.

* Individual usually cannot have more than $2,000 in their name to qualify (there are certain items not counted, such as a car, home, burial plot, and other permitted items).

* Note: $20 of unearned income (a gift from a parent for example) is permitted and the first $65 of earned income also does not reduce benefits, per month. There is a $1 reduction in benefits for every $2 earned (after the $65 exclusion

* Rent subsidies and food assistance does not count against SSI.

* Qualifying for SSI can provide automatic eligibility for Medicaid in some states.


* Comprehensive healthcare for low-income individuals and those with disabilities.

* Like SSI, individuals in many states usually cannot have more than $2,000 in their name.

* Medicaid covers much more than just health insurance; various home and community-based services are only available via Medicaid. For this reason, even if other health insurance is available through a parent, etc., it is often recommended to qualify for Medicaid if possible.


* Also called federal "Housing Choice Voucher" program (HCV).

* Housing vouchers for low-income individuals.

* To qualify, the individual must have an income of 50% of the "area median income". If already qualified for SSI, he/she will most likely also be eligible for Section 8 based on income.

* No asset limits for qualification, but interest earned on assets counts towards income limit.

* Several different variations of the program, but the most common is when the individual pays approximately 1/3 of their income towards housing rent, Section 8 voucher covers the remainder.

* It is often recommended as soon as the child turns 18, to get on the Section 8 waiting list (which can reportedly be as long as 7-10 years). Even if not sure the child will need it, it can always be turned down if approved in the future.


* Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ("SNAP"), formerly referred to as "food stamps."

* Food assistance programs to individuals with low income.

* Individual cannot have more than $3,250 in countable assets.

* Income limitations similar to SSI (if already receiving SSI however the individual will qualify).

* Fro single individuals for example, the monthly allotment is $194-30% of net income.


* Funded through Medicaid.

* Program in which the individual with needs hires a PCA to help with Activities of Daily Living (ADL's) such as bathing, dressing, transfers, etc. …

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