The US Dept. of Social Security provides benefits for those who live with a disability. The amount of money you will be awarded will depend on your employment status and the nature of your disability. If you would like to apply for disability benefits then you will need to create an online account and then submit personal information about yourself and your disability. However, before you start you should first read the SSA’s disability checklist which tells you what information you will need to provide, after which you can go ahead and complete their online application form.
If you prefer to, you can apply over the phone by calling the SSA on 1-800-772-1213 (or for those who are deaf or hard of hearing the number is 1-800-325-0778). Finally there is also the option to apply for disability benefits face to face. If this is your preference you will need to find your local social security office and then make an appointment with an advisor.
The Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST) is perfect if you just want to see what benefits you might be able to claim without having to make a full online application to the SSA. The tool does not ask for your name or social security number and so is completely anonymous. However as a consequence of not processing personal data the BEST tool does not give precise information on exactly how much money you will be awarded, it merely acts as a guide. If you do want an accurate assessment then you should apply directly to the SSA, as outlined in Part One.
The tool is simple to use and works by asking you a series of questions including your age, where you live, your marital status, what benefits you currently receive etc. The test takes around ten minutes to complete after which you will be given an estimation on which benefits you could be entitled to. You should answer all questions honestly and truthfully as giving inaccurate answers could lead to a false output with regard to the benefits you could be eligible for.
The Mobile Food Pantry Program is operated by the Feeding America Food Bank network. The program works by setting up a farmer-style markets which offer food supplies to those who may otherwise find it difficult to get to a regular food bank (such as the elderly and the disabled). The distribution of food lasts for about 2 hours and often feeds over 250 families on each visit. A range of staple foods are available including meat, bread and vegetables. However, not all local food banks may offer the mobile pantry program, so you will need to check locally to see if they operate this scheme in your area.
Aside from regular monthly payments, there are also a number of grants available for those with a disability. If you run a search on Grants.gov you will be able to find a list of disabled grants which maybe suitable. However before you start it maybe worth checking out this blog post which distinguishes between what is offered on benefits.gov and what is offered on Grants.gov. Essentially the post explains that whilst Benefits.gov provides individuals with information on getting government financial assistance, Grants.gov is on the other hand a “…digital mailbox for grant applications submitted by nonprofit organizations, universities, institutions, local governments, and other entities.”
The site is very simple to use and returns many different grants – we ran a search related to “disability grants” and were offered 180 different results, so this is well worth checking out and may provide an additional means of generating an income aside from the regular benefit entitlements for the disabled.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ‘SNAP’ (formerly known as food stamps) helps those on a low income to buy essential food items. Although its a federal organisation, it is administered at a local level by each state. It was claimed that in 2015 SNAP lifted 4.6 million Americans above the poverty line which included two million children and 366,000 seniors. SNAP is delivered using electronic debit (EBT) cards which can be used to buy essential groceries, such as bread, vegetables and fruit. They cannot be used to buy luxury items such as alcohol or tobacco.
In order to apply you must be a registered US citizen with a social security number. The qualifying criteria is quite strict, however those claiming Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will be able to claim SNAP. Find your local SNAP office here and also checkout this guide which has further information on how to apply.
Housing Grants help disabled military veterans to buy or adapt a home in order to better serve their needs and help them live more independently. In order to claim you must first ensure you are receiving disability benefits (including verification that your disability is 100% service-connected). Once you have this confirmation, you will be assigned a severity rating, which will determine the level of grant you will be eligible to claim. There are two main categories of grants…
(1) Specially Adapted Housing Grant
These are specifically for homeowners and are awarded to veterans with serious physical injuries incurred as result of service operations (typically the loss of use of lower extremities for example). Applications can be made by those vets who jointly own their property with another person, e.g a partner or other family member.
(2) Special Housing Adaptation Grant
This grant is usually of a lower amount compared with the Specially Adapted Housing Grant and is most often awarded to veterans with a visual impairment or loss of the use of the hands for example (although other disabilities can also count). Although the person claiming does not have to be the homeowner they must be living in a house owned by a family member.
Some disability benefits are eligible for Earned Income Tax Credit (including Social Security Disability Insurance, SSI and military disability pensions. However disability retirement benefits are counted as earned income until you meet the minimum retirement age (which is calculated as the minimum age you could retire without the disability). In addition to this, it is worth noting that you can only claim if you (or you and your partner) have another form of earned income.
Aside from getting EITC, there are a number of other possible tax breaks for the disabled which are worth checking out. For example if you are registered blind you may qualify for an increased standard deduction. Or, if you have a physical or mental illness that restricts your employment opportunities, you may also qualify for a miscellaneous deduction.
|Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE)||APSE help disabled people with employment and career advancement opportunities|
|American Action Fund||Helps blind children and adults who cannot access the assistance they need from government agencies or other associated entitiies|
|Caring Voice Coalition||A non-profit organisation assisting those with chronic illnesses through dedicated outreach programs. They have a dedicated section of disability assistance.|
|Chanda Plan Foundation||Helps those on limited income to access integrative therapies|
|Disability Application Help||Assist with applications for disability benefits as well as appeals|
|Disability Benefits Help||Help and advice on claiming disability benefits|
|Disability Help Site||More help and advice with how to apply for disability benefits|
|Disabled Children's Relief Fund||Helps disabled children to acquire equipment to aid them with their mobility|
|Employer Assistance and Recruiting Network (EARN)||The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) encourage employers to create an inclusive workplace by promoting the benefits of employing those individuals with a disability|
|Fundsnetservices||Get access to specialized grants and fundraising. Has a dedicated category for those looking for disabled financial support|
|SourceAmerica||SourceAmerica (formerly NISH), a not for profit organisation who match employers to prospective employees who have a disability of some kind|
|State Vocational Rehabilitation Offices||Your local Vocational Rehabilitation Offics (VRO) helps those who have a disability to achieve their employment goals. Each State has its own local office|
|Ultimate Disability Guide||A huge site with a wealth of information about SSDI, SDI & more|