Federal Assistance Programs

Many of the federal programs available to people with disabilities are partially or totally based on the assets owned by or available to the individual. The majority of programs offered are generated through or in conjunction with funding available under the Social Security Act. There are four basic disability-rated benefit programs:

Social Security Retirement Benefits (SSA): Social Security Retirement Benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are two programs that provide income assistance. SSA provides income to workers who have made the requisite contributions to the system through payment of FICA taxes;

Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI may provide a guaranteed minimum income for a disabled person who has not made adequate contributions to a personal Social Security account. Eligibility for SSI is based on disability requirements and financial need. A child under the age of eighteen can qualify for SSI benefits if the child meets Social Security’s definition of disability for children, and if the child’s income and resources fall within the eligibility limits. But the income of other people in the child’s household are also considered when determining the child’s financial need. The amount of the SSI payment is different from one state to another because some states supplement the SSI payment. The eligibility criteria for children may be tough to meet based on Social Security’s stringent financial requirements and that definition of disability. I highly recommend you contact an attorney that specializes in California disability law for further consultations as to the benefits available;

Medicare: Medical assistance is available under Medicare, but eligible participants must be eligible for SSA benefits. Medicare provides only listed hospital and doctors’ services;

Medi-Cal: a federally funded program used to help families pay for medical care; it is a state-administered program through the California Department of Health Services. It has been serving families since 1966. Eligibility for Medi-Cal is based on SSI criteria for both disability and need. Visit the Medi-Cal Web site at http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/.

Mark Blane
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