Disabilities Programs: SSI, SSDI, and other programs

Benefits for Children and Adults with Disabilities

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI):  SSI makes monthly payments to people with low income and limited resources who are 65 or older, or blind, or disabled. Your child, if younger than age 18, can qualify if he or she has a physical or mental condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability for children, and if his or her income and resources fall within the eligibility limits. Even if your child wasn’t eligible for SSI before his or her 18th birthday because you and your spouse had too much income or too many resources, he or she may become eligible for SSI at age 18.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for adults disabled since childhood: The SSDI program pays benefits to adults who have a disability that began before they became 22-years-old.  This is referred to as a “child’s” benefit because it’s paid on a parent’s Social Security earnings record.  For a disabled adult to become entitled to this “child” benefit, one of his or her parents must be receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits; or must have died and have worked enough to qualify for Social Security.  SSDI disabled adult “child” benefits continue as long as the individual remains disabled. Your child doesn’t need to have worked to get these benefits.
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program: The Children’s Health Insurance Program enables states to provide health insurance to children from working families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to afford private health insurance.

Social Security Disability Benefits

Supplemental Security Income

Other Benefit Programs

ABLE Accounts: Saving for the Future w/o Losing Benefits

  • Nov. 3, 2017:  ABLE Account Limit Set To Rise
  • April 10, 2017: Congress Weighs Expanding ABLE Act
  • What Are ABLE Accounts?  Congress authorized ABLE accounts in the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014. Supporters of the law pointed out that the U.S. tax code provided significant tax benefits to parents who save money for their children’s college education in 529 plans, but parents of people with disabilities had no similar way to save for their children’s future needs, such as occupational therapy or assisted living. Further, families that did try to save money for such things ended up costing their children access to government assistance.
  • A key feature of ABLE accounts is that the first $100,000 in an account is not treated as personal assets of the account’s beneficiary. This is important because federal law generally bars individuals from receiving assistance such as Medicaid, housing aid and Supplemental Security Income if they have more than $2,000 worth of financial assets.  Severely disabled individuals often need these government services, especially after their parents die or can no longer care for them. Advocates for the disabled have long argued that the $2,000 cutoff effectively punished those whose families planned ahead.
  • The ABLE Act amended Section 529 in an effort to correct this.  ABLE accounts allow the families of disabled young people to set aside money for their care with special tax benefits.  Contributions to an ABLE account are not tax-deductible, but all investment earnings remain untaxed as long as money taken from the account is used for “qualified disability expenses,” including: medical treatment; education, tutoring and job training; special-needs transportation; assistive technology; housing; legal and administrative fees.
  • ABLE accounts operate like “529 accounts,” with States administering the investment accounts.
  • As of 2018, an individual can contribute up to $15,000/year to any ABLE account; a disabled individual can be named as the beneficiary of only one ABLE account; and the person must have been blind or disabled before age 26 to qualify.

Americans with Disabilities Act and other Major Laws

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides broad nondiscrimination protection in employment, public services, public accommodations, services operated by public entities, transportation, and telecommunications for individuals with disabilities.  A Brief History

Links to Organizations and Resources for People with Disabilities

  • ABLE National Resource Center
    • The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) is a collaborative that brings together the investment, support and resources of some of the country’s largest and most influential national disability organizations in an effort to accelerate the design and availability of ABLE accounts to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities and their families.
  • American Association of People with Disabilities
    • AAPD works to improve the lives of people with disabilities by acting as a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities.
  • American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
    • AAIDD promotes progressive policies, sound research, effective practices, and universal human rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. AAIDD’s goals are to 1. Enhance the capacity of professionals who work with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities; 2. Promote the development of a society that fully includes individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities; and 3. Sustain an effective, responsive, well managed, and responsibly-governed organization.
  • Association of University Centers on Disabilities
  • Autism Speaks
    • Autism Speaks is an autism advocacy organization in the United States that sponsors autism research and conducts awareness and outreach activities aimed at families, governments, and the public.
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network
    • The Autistic Self Advocacy Network seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism. ASAN believes that the goal of autism advocacy should be a world in which autistic people enjoy equal access, rights, and opportunities. We work to empower autistic people across the world to take control of our own lives and the future of our common community, and seek to organize the autistic community to ensure our voices are heard in the national conversation about us. Nothing About Us, Without Us!
  • Best Buddies International
    • We are the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
  • Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus
    • The Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus (BDC) was formed in the 107th Congress, and serves as a groundbreaking forum for Members of Congress and their staff to discuss the many issues affecting people with disabilities.  The primary purpose of the Caucus is to inform, educate and raise awareness on issues affecting people with disabilities.
  • Center for Public Representation
    • CPR uses legal strategies, advocacy, and policy to promote the integration and full community participation of people with disabilities and all others who are devalued in today’s society.
  • Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities
    • The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) is the largest coalition of national organizations working together to advocate for federal public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society.
  • Disability Voices United
    • A powerful advocacy network of individuals with developmental disabilities and their family members throughout California who have united to take back the systems they created a half-century ago. We have diverse board and committee members and Ambassadors in every part of the state and at every regional center.
  • Disability Scoop
    • Developmental Disability News
  • National Association of Residential Providers for Adults with Autism
    • The United Voice of the Autism Residential Services Community. Lists member agencies and courses. Goals are to promote best practices and quality standards through training, open access to underserved populations, exchange information members and partners to promote efficiency and effectiveness.
  • National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Inc.
    • Since 1938, NASDSE has provided leadership to ensure the provision of a quality education to every child.  NASDSE focuses on improving educational services and outcomes for children and youth with disabilities throughout the United States, the Department of Defense, the federal territories and the Freely Associated States of Palau, American Samoa, Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Marshall Islands.
  • National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities
    • To design, improve, and sustain state systems delivering home and community based services and supports for people who are older or have a disability, and their caregivers.
  • National Disability Institute
    • The mission of National Disability Institute is to drive social impact to build a better economic future for people with disabilities and their families.
  • National Organization on Disability
    • The National Organization on Disability (NOD) is a private, non-profit organization that promotes the full participation and contributions of America’s 57 million people with disabilities in all aspects of life. NOD focuses on increasing employment opportunities for the 80-percent of working-age Americans with disabilities who are not employed.
  • Special Olympics, Inc.
    • The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. This gives them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
  • The Arc
    • The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.
  • United Cerebral Palsy
    • United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities.  UCP and its nearly 68+ affiliates have a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with a broad range of disabilities by providing services and support to more than 176,000 children and adults every day.
  • Wrightslaw.com
    • A comprehensive resource providing legal and explanatory information on your child’s special education rights.

International Issues, Agreements, and Developments