Disability Benefits

Regional Center

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.

In Home Support Services

Disabled Parking Placards

ABLE Accounts

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