What Government Benefits Are Available for Special Needs?

There are various government programs to support children, young people, and adults with special needs. Qualifying for benefit programs may be complex but will greatly aid the care of your disabled child, even after you are gone.

Relevant Legislation

In addition to providing special needs programs, the Americans with Disabilities Act ensures proper treatment and equal opportunity for the disabled. If you feel like your public buildings or schools fall short of your child’s needs, contact the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to regulation, the following government agencies provide equal opportunity to those with disabilities:

  • Employment
  • Transportation
  • Telephone Relay Service
  • Education
  • Health Care
  • Labor
  • Housing
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Agriculture
  • ADA Guidelines

With the ADA, there are many civil rights and government benefits for people with special needs. Below we’ll discuss some of the more specific government programs that your child may qualify for.

How to Qualify for Government Benefits

Social Security offers two programs to those who have a disability. These include:

1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

This program supports certain special needs benefits, including medical costs. Parents’ income level determines whether or not disabled children under the age of 18 qualify for such benefits. In addition, adults disabled since childhood (or before 22 years old) also qualify for SSDI benefits.

Parental circumstances also determine if a disabled adult qualifies for this “child” benefit. To qualify, at least one of his or her parents must currently qualify for Social Security benefits or have died and worked long enough under Social Security benefits.

2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

This involves monthly payments to people with low income who are either:

  • 65 years or older
  • Blind or disabled

SSI payments vary from state to state, so contact your local Social Security office to find out specific information. For children under 18, the income, resources, and household situation are all considered during application.

To qualify for SSI payments, your child cannot work a job that earns more than $1,070 a month. Their physical and/or mental condition must also meet what’s called “marked and severe functional limitations.” Your child’s disability must also be continuous for 12 months or more or a terminal condition.

When applying, you’ll need to bring any and all health and educational records to quicken the process. After sending this information, you’ll receive feedback.

Maximizing Government Benefits

Remember that relatives who give monetary gifts or donations could prevent your child from receiving government benefits. To avoid this, invest in a special needs trust for such gifts and donations. This way, your child will still have a low enough “income” to qualify for SSI.

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