Entitlement Programs

Thomas J. Reilly
The Dignity Group
1163 East Ogden Avenue, Suite 705-354
Naperville, IL 60563
(630) 681-1119
E-Mail: dignitygroup@uus.net
  Reprinted from the Workbook on the Special Needs and Services with Disabilities, 4th edition, with the permission of The Dignity Group

The key to understanding entitlement programs lies in the key word - entitle. It means you have the right to receive them, assuming you meet certain eligibility criteria, You must know what the programs are, which ones will help your family, how you go about applying for them properly, and finally, where do you apply? A conscientious effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of dollar amounts where cited, however, final determinations in this regard must be made by the appropriate governmental office.

Social Security

Your child can receive social security payments if:
  1. He/she had their own earnings history and was covered under social security. This situation will result in Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits.
  2. If you, an insured social security person, retires or passes away, and your child has been judged disabled before his/her age 22. This situation will result in Social Security Survivors (SSA) benefits.
Survivor benefits can be paid to the spouse of a covered deceased worker at any age if caring for an entitled child with a disability.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income is a Federal program for aged, blind and disabled persons with little or no income or assets. Persons eligible under this program can receive monthly cash benefits up to the established monthly ceiling. The Social Security Benefits program and the SSI program are separate programs. Regular social security checks are green and SSI checks are gold. If a person receives SSI benefits, he/she will aslo receive a Medicaid Card.
An individual who is in a hospital more than 30 days or in an institution will have the SSI benefits reduced to $25.00 a month if Medicaid is paying for the hospitalization.

Applications for SSI can be filed at any Social Security office.
The following information is requested:
  1. Medicare Care
  2. Medicaid Card (Green Card)
  3. Rent Receipt
  4. Bankbook and checking account
  5. Award letter from Social Security or copy of current Social Security check
  6. Pension check or letter
  7. Birth Certificate

SSI Eligibility Requirements

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal program that pays monthly checks to aged, blind, and disabled people who have limited income and resources. Disabled and blind children may qualify, too. The following chart describes the basic eligibility requirements for SSI.

Requirement Definition Exceptions/Exclusions
Aged 65 or older
Vision no better than 20/200 or a limited visual field of 20 degrees or less with best corrective eyeglasses.

Person whose visual impairment is not severe enough to be considered blind may qualify as a disabled person.
Disabled Physical or mental impairment that keeps a person from working and is expected to last 12 months or result in death; child under 18 may qualify if the disability is severe as one that keeps an adult from working and is expected to last 12 months or result in death. Special work incentives allow some income and resources to be excluded and permit payment of special cash benefits or continuation of Medicaid coverage even when person is working.
Limited Income* Below currently established amount per month. (In some States, people with income above these Federal Limits may still qualify for a State supplementary payment.) Not all income counts. Exclusions: $20 a month for most income; $65 a month of earnings, benefits will be decreased by $1 for every $2 earned over $65; home energy assistance under certain conditions; food stamps; certain other items or amounts.
Limited Resources $2,000 for single adult or child. Not all resources count. Exclusions: The home a person lives in; a car and personal household goods, depending on value; burial plots for individual and his/her immediate family; burial funds ($1500) and life insurance up to $1000 each for individual and spouse.
Other U.S. citizen, lawfully admitted immigrant or alien permanently residing in U.S. "under color of law" (a status other than immigrant that Immigration & Naturalization Service considers permanent)
Resident of U.S. or Northern Mariana Islands
Must apply for other money benefits due
Disabled must accept available vocational rehabilitation
Disabled addicts and alcoholics must accept available treatment and receive their SSI payments through representative payee.
- Can leave money to child, if eligible for benefits (see Trust Language)
- Beware of Trust accounts, joint accounts, inheritance.