Disability Benefits

Disability Benefits

Disability benefits are paid through 2 different programs:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Many of our patients under 18 qualify for SSI. All of our patients with Down syndrome over 18 should qualify for SSI. The parent of a child with DS, or an adult with DS who was previously working, may qualify for SSDI in some circumstances

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI makes monthly payments to people ho have low income and few resources, and who are:

- Age 65 or older;

- Blind; or

- Disabled

Disabled or blind children whose parents have little income or resources may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits as well. The basic SSI amount is the same nationwide. Many sates, however, and money to the basic benefit. You can call or visit your local Social Security office to find out specific information about your County/State

Rules for getting SSI

Your income and resources

Whether you can get SSI dependes on your income and resources (the things you own).


Income is money you receive such as wages, social security benefits, and pensions. Income also includes such things as food and shelter. The amount of income you can receive each month and still get SSI depends partly on where you live. You can call or visit your local Social Security office to find out specific information about your County/State

Social Security doesn’t count:

- The first $20 a month of most income you receive

- The first $65 a month you earn from working and half the amount over $65

- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps

- Shelter you get from private nonprofit organizations and

- Most home energy assistance

If you are married, they will count part of your spouse’s income and resources when deciding if you qualify for SSI. If you are younger than age 18, they will include part of your parents’ income and resources. And, if you’re a sponsored non citizen, they may include your sponsor’s income and resources. If you’re a student, some wages or scholarships you receive may not count

If you are disabled but working: Social security does not count wages you use to pay for items or services that help you to work. Example: if you need a wheelchair, the wages you use to pay for the wheelchair don’t count as income when we decide if you qualify for SSI. Example: if a blind person uses wagers to pay for transportation to and from work, the wages to pay for transportation cost aren’t counted as income.

If you are disabled or blind, some of the income you use (or save) for training, or to buy items you need to work, may not count


Resources that are counted in deciding if you qualify for SSI include real estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks, and bonds.

You may be able to get SSI if your resources are worth $2,000 or less. A couple may be ablet o get SSI if they have resources worth $3000 or less. If you own property that you are trying to sell, you may be able to get SSI while trying to sell it

NOTE: there are special savings accounts for people with disabilities called ABLE accounts. Money saved in these accounts may be counted differently. We strongly recommend ABLE accounts for all our patients/clients.

Social Security does not count everything you own in deciding whether you have too many resources to qualify for SSI. For example, they do not count;

- the home and land where you live

- Life insurance policies with a face value of $1500 or less

- Your car (usually)

- Burial plots for you and members of your immediate family

- Up to $1500 in burial funds for the individual, and up to $1500 burial funds for the individual’s spouse

Living Arrangements

If you live in a city or county rest home, halfway house, or other public institution, such as a jail or prison, you usually can’t get SSI. But there are some exceptions:

- If you live in a publicly operated community residence that serves no more than 16 people, you may get SSI

- If you live in a public institution mainly to attend approved educational or job training to help you get a job, you may get SSI

- If you live in a public emergency shelter for the homeless, you may get SSI

- If you live in a public or private institution, and MediCal is paying more than half the cost of your care, you may get a small SSI benefit

- If you have any felony or arrest warrants for escape from custody, flights to avoid prosecution or confinement or flight escape, you usually can’t get SSI

Other rules:

To get SSI, you must live in the United States or the Northern Mariana Islands and be a US citizen or national. In some cases, noncitizen residents can qualify for SSI. For more information, read SSI for Noncitizens (publication No 05-11051)

Note: we encourage our non citizen patients to consult with a lawyer before applying for SSI. SSI benefits are considered a cash benefit, and can therefore count against your immigration case as a public charge.

How to Apply for SSI

If you plan to apply for SSI, you can begin the application process and complete a large part of your application by visiting www.socialsecurity.gove/applyforbenefits

You can also call toll free at 1-800-772-1213 to ask for an appointment with a Social Security representative

If you are a disabled adult intending to file for both SSI and Social Security Disability Insurance, you can now apply online for both benefits at the same time if you meet the following requirements:

- Are between the ages of 18 and 65

- Have never been married

- Aren’t blind

- Are a US citizen residing in one of the 50 states, DC, or the Northern Mariana Islands

- Haven’t applied or received SSI benefits in the past

To apply online for SSI and SSDI, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/disability

If you cannot apply online (example: if the disabled adults was receiving SSI benefits as a child), you can call toll free at 1-800-772-1213 to set up an in-office or telephone appointment with a Social Security representative.

Parents or guardians usually can apply for blind or disabled children under the age of 18. In some cases, other third parties can apply for children

What to bring

You should have certain items with you when you apply. Even if you don’t have all of the things listed below, apply anyway. The people in the Social Security office can help you get whatever is needed. Please bring:

- Your Social Secuirty card or a record of your Social Security number

- Your birth certificate or other proof of your age

- Information about the home where you live, such as your mortgage or your lease and landlord’s name

- Payroll slips, bank books, insurance policies, burial fund records, and other information about your income and the things you own

- The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of doctors, hospitals, and clinics that you have been to, if you are applying fo SSI because you are disabled or blind

- Proof of US citizenship or eligible non citizen status

- Your checkbook or other papers that show your bank, credit union, or savings and loan account number

Note: we encourage our non citizen patients to consult with a lawyer before applying for SSI. SSI benefits are considered a cash benefit, and can therefore count against your immigration case as a public charge.

If you are approved for SSI, you must receive your payments electronically. We can may payments via direct deposit, the Direct Express card program, or an Electronic Transfer Account. For more information, visit www.GoDirect.org

A note for people who are blind or disabled

If you are blind or disabled, and working, there are special rules to help you

You may be able to keep getting SSI payments while you work. As you earn more money, your SSI payments may be reduced or stopped, but you may be ale to keep you MediCaid coverage. You may also be able t set aside some money for a work goal or to go to school. In this case, the money you set aside won’t reduce the amount of your SSI. Blind or Disabled people who apply may get free special services to help them work. These services may include counseling, job training, and help in finding work.

Get more information in Working While Disabled – How We Can help (Publication No 05-11008)

Right to appeal

If you disagree with a decision made on your claim, you can appeal it. The steps you can take are explained in Your Right To Question a Decision Made on your Supplemental Security Income Claim

You may handle your won SSI case or appeal with free help from Social Security. You alos have the right to have someone represent you. There are rules about who can represent you and what your representative can do. www.socialsecurity.gov/representation

Note: many of our patients get denied the first time they apply for SSI, We always recommend you appeal if your child is deemed not to qualify for SSI after the initial application

Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI)

Social Security pays benefits to people who can’t work because they have a medical condition that’s expected to last at least one year or result in death. Federal law requires this very strict definition of disability. While some programs wive money to people with partial disability or short term disability, Social Security does not. Certain family members of disabled workers can also receive money from social security.

To receive disability benefits, one has to have worked a minimum amount of time before the disability occurred. The minimum amount of work required is based on age. If you think you qualify for SSDI, you can apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov or call the toll free number 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment to file a disability claim at your local Social Security Office. You have the right to representation by a qualified attorney. Please note that processing a disability application can take 3-5 months.

Regional Center

Self Determination

In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Program

This is verbatim from the California Department of Social Services website

The IHSS Program will help pay for services provided to you so that you can remain safely in your own home. To be eligible, you must be over 65 years of age, or disabled, or blind. Disabled children are also potentially eligible for IHSS. IHSS is considered an alternative to out-of-home care, such as nursing homes or board and care facilities.

The types of services which can be authorized through IHSS are housecleaning, meal preparation, laundry, grocery shopping, personal care services (such as bowel and bladder care, bathing, grooming and paramedical services), accompaniment to medical appointments, and protective supervision for the mentally impaired.

Eligibility criteria for all IHSS applicants and recipients:

  • You must physically reside in the United States.

  • You must also be a California resident.

  • You must have a Medi-Cal eligibility determination.

  • You must live at home or an abode of your own choosing (acute care hospital, long-term care facilities, and licensed community care facilities are not considered "own home").

  • You must submit a completed Health Care Certification form.

How the program works:

  • A county social worker will interview you at your home to determine your eligibility and need for IHSS. Based on your ability to safely perform certain tasks for yourself, the social worker will assess the types of services you need and the number of hours the county will authorize for each of these services. This assessment will include information given by you and, if appropriate, by your family, friends, physician or other licensed health care professional.

  • A completed Health Care Certification (SOC 873) must be received by the county prior to authorization of services.

  • You will be notified if IHSS has been approved or denied. If denied, you will be notified of the reason for the denial. If approved, you will be notified of the services and the number of hours per month which have been authorized for you.

  • If you are approved for IHSS, you must hire someone (your individual provider) to perform the authorized services. You are considered your provider's employer and, therefore, it is your responsibility to hire, train, supervise, and fire this individual.

  • If your county has contracted IHSS providers, you may choose to have services provided by the contractor.

  • If your county has homemaker employees, you may receive services from a county homemaker.

How are IHSS payments made?

  • You may contact the social worker assigned to your case to determine the IHSS hourly rate in your county. Because unions negotiate with the employer of record in each county, the wage rates may vary from county to county. The State issues all checks for individual provider payments. If the provider qualifies, the State withholds the applicable amounts for disability insurance and Social Security taxes.

How to Apply:

To apply for IHSS, complete an application and submit it to your county IHSS Office.

SOC 295 - Application For Social Services

Español/ 中文

SOC 295 Chinese (pdf)

SOC 295 Spanish (pdf)

Webinar on IHSS and SSI from the Down syndrome connection, SCDD and CRIL

Transportation Resources

AC Transit and RTC cards

AC Transit.pdf
AC transit Spanish.pdf

Para Transit

East Bay Paratransit.pdf
SPANISH TF PPT East Bay Paratransit COVID 4.23.2021 28129.pdf

Disabled Parking Placards

DMV placards application.pdf

Mobility and Transportation Training - CRIL

CRIL travel training English.pdf
CRIL travel training.pdf

Mobility Assistance (for wheelchair bound)

Mobility assistance program expanding in Alameda County

East Bay Times by Chris Treadway February 16, 2021

A free program to assist the growing number of people using wheelchairs and other mobility devices has been expanded to nine Alameda County cities, and organizers are trying to get the word out to potential users as COVID-19 restrictions are slowly relaxed.

The FASTER (Fast Accessible Safe Transportation and Emergency Repair) program is an expansion of city-funded services offered in Berkeley for 20 years through local nonprofit Easy Does It Emergency Services (easydoesitservices.org), which provides logistical emergency support for seniors and the disabled. FASTER program staff are ready to provide emergency repair or assistance to mobility device users who experience mechanical breakdowns or are otherwise stranded in the following cities:

Albany San Leandro

Alameda San Lorenzo

Berkeley Hayward

Emeryville Castro Valley


"When people call, we essentially try to help them repair their devices over the phone. There may be some basic things that can solve the problem," said Niquita Williams, the program's marketing and communications coordinator. "If it doesn't work, we can drive to the location and make a repair. Otherwise we take them home. So nobody using a mobility device has to feel unsafe."

Assistance is available by calling the Easy Does It Emergency Services' Urgent Dispatch Line at 510-704-2111.

Program services are available:

Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m

Weekends 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

"It's like AAA for the disability community," said Jody Ellsworth, a FASTER driver and technician.

Much like an auto club with a tow truck, the program has five vans equipped with lifts and people who are on-call.

"In general we can get to people within 30 minutes," said Michele Blackwell, Easy Does It's executive director. "We aim to get to people as quickly as possible," although response times can vary depending on traffic or other logistics. The program's employees are cross trained and ready to handle users' various needs, she said.

According to a 2015 study by the Alameda County Transportation Commission, 9% of Alameda County's population is disabled" and a high portion of seniors also have a disability," up to 40 or 50% in some jurisdictions. "More than one in five Alameda County residents is expected to be 65 or older by 2040," the report noted.

"This program is integral, especially during COVID because people might not have access to support that they would otherwise. On short notice we get them and their equipment to a safe place," Blackwell said. "People with disabilities and seniors are so much more vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19. I know a person who's only left her home three times since the onset of the pandemic, and two of those were to go to the doctor." At the same time, pandemic closures have delayed the rollout of the expanded program and are partly responsible for the low number of users so far.

"We haven't had as much request for service as we would like," Blackwell said. "Our feeling is that it's because people are staying home and not going out as much and also that many don't know that the service is available." County funding for the program was approved more than a year ago, but the formal rollout was delayed by COVID-19 restrictions.

"One of the big challenges is that many of the people we serve, particularly seniors, may not have access to technology," Blackwell said. "Right now we're doing our best to get people informed." East Does It is doing so via online media, mailers, the 211 and 511 telephone services, word-of-mouth and by developing relationships with regional organizations such as the Center for Independent Living. For Berkeley residents, the group provides other services such as case work, routine transportation and emergency in-home care attendants.

Easy Does It is also assisting vulnerable populations in north Alameda County by providing transportation to the COVID-19 vaccination site at Golden Gate Fields in Albany.

PG&E Medical Baseline Allowance

The PG&E Medical Baseline Program is a program to reduce the cost burden for community members who may rely on power-dependent durable medical equipment or have similar power- related needs, and to provide early notification for planned power shut offs.

Please note that from now until mid-April 2021, the application for the PG& E medical baseline program has been streamlined, to allow faster and broader access to our vulnerable residents - it will not require a doctor's signature. After that, you will need a docto's signature


  • PG&E Medical Baseline landing page, which can be displayed in Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, Hmong, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese. **For Hindi, Portuguese and Thai, PG&E does NOT provide a translated application and flyer, only the web landing page**

Medical Baseline Outreach Background.pdf
Medical Baseline Outreach Background - abridged.pdf

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

If you get SSI, you may be able to get help to buy food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. You can apply for SNAP at the social security office. You can also visit www.fns.usda.gov/snap to find out how to apply.


When you get SSI, you may also get MediCaid, which helps pay doctor and hospital bills

ABLE Accounts

Special Needs Trusts