Key Programs

This section introduces:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Medicaid
  • Medicaid's Freedom to Work program, and
  • Private health coverage.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI is the most important benefit that offers money for young people with disabilities. Even if you've never had a job, you may be able to get SSI. Even if you are under 18 and live with your parents, you may be able to get SSI.

Who it helps

If you have a disability, don’t have enough money for your basic needs, don’t have much income, and have limited resources, you may be able to get SSI. (If you are under 18, your parents also must have low income and limited resources for you to qualify for SSI.)

How it helps

If you qualify, SSI gives you money each month to help with your expenses, like food and rent. If you get SSI benefits, you also qualify automatically for Medicaid.

Learn more about SSI eligibility.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

When you work, taxes are taken out of your paycheck. Some of those taxes are automatically paid into the SSDI program. If you work for long enough while paying into SSDI and then your disability limits how much you can work, you will get money each month from SSDI.

SSDI doesn't cover many young people, because they haven’t worked long enough to get benefits from it. However, if you get a job, your job could help you qualify for SSDI later. And, the more you work, the more SSDI will pay you if you need it!

Learn more in DB101's SSDI article.

Medicaid

Medicaid is the most important public health benefit for young people with disabilities.

Who it helps

Medicaid is for people who cannot afford medical expenses. Generally, to get it, you or your family must have low income. If you get SSI benefits, you automatically qualify for Medicaid.

How it helps

If you qualify, Medicaid pays for your medical expenses, including visits to the doctor, hospital stays, prescription drugs, medical equipment, and other medical services.

Learn more about Medicaid eligibility.

Michigan's Freedom to Work Medicaid Program

Freedom to Work lets you get a job and keep your Medicaid health coverage.

Who it helps

Freedom to Work is for people with disabilities who have jobs. The income limit is much higher than with standard Medicaid, but you have to pay a monthly premium. The amount of your premium depends on your income.

How it helps

Freedom to Work pays for the same services that standard Medicaid covers, including visits to the doctor, hospital stays, medical equipment, and other medical services.

Learn more about Freedom to Work eligibility.

Private Health Coverage

Private health insurance is the most common way people get health coverage.

Who it helps

People get private health coverage in different ways. Some get it through their jobs, others get it from their parents’ employers, and some sign up for it on their own at Healthcare.gov. If your family income is at or below 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines ($48,560 per year if you are single) and you get an individual health plan, the government may help pay your monthly premium through tax subsidies.

How it helps

Private health coverage pays for some of your medical costs when you see doctors, visit other health care providers, do lab tests, or get prescription medicines at a pharmacy. Depending on your private health plan, your coverage may pay for almost all of your medical expenses or for just a part of those expenses.

Learn more about private health coverage.

Estimate how your benefits could change

When you get a job, go to school, or get older, your eligibility and benefits amounts may change. DB101 includes Calculators that can help you predict how your benefits might change. For young people, the School and Work Calculator is especially helpful. After reading about benefits, try it out!

If you have questions, contact experts who can help you understand the rules.