Financial Help for Disabled Persons
People with disabilities face greater financial challenges than the general population. If you’re struggling with credit card debt, we can help you learn about your options. You may qualify for a nonprofit debt management program which consolidates your bills and lowers your interest rates.
People with disabilities face greater financial challenges than the general population. If you’re struggling with credit card debt, we can help you learn about your options. You may qualify for a nonprofit debt management program, which consolidates your bills and lowers your interest rates.
Financial Programs for the Disabled
One in four Americans – 61 million adults — live with a disability and face disheartening financial problems because of it. This page contains information on many state and federal government programs, as well as nonprofit charities, designed to assist people who have disabilities.
- Financial Help for Disabled Veterans
- Financial Help for Disabled Children
- Government & Private Grants
- Loans for the Disabled
- Federal Agencies
Some specific programs available are:
ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) savings accounts are tax-advantaged accounts for people with disabilities and their families. Contributions can be made by the account owner, family, friends or a special needs trust. Income received is not taxable, and the money can be used for education, food, housing, transportation, job training, assistive technology and health care.
Medicaid provides health care coverage to people with disabilities who are below certain income caps. Each state has different rules about eligibility and how to apply. You can learn more about Medicaid through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Federal financial benefits for disabled people and families, as well as those with low incomes, are:
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) pays medical bills for children whose families cannot afford health insurance.
- SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly known as Food Stamps, helps pay for groceries.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) helps unemployed or low-income earners pay for necessities like rent or mortgage and medical expenses.
- Your local vocational rehabilitation agency can help you find state-level grants and loans to help if your car or truck needs modifications so that you can drive it.
The Social Security Administration website has a benefits finder that has information about programs and resources. The calculator asks basic questions, then suggests government programs that can help.
Social Security Disability Insurance
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is emergency health insurance for those who can’t work because of a disability and have not paid into the Social Security system. A doctor’s written statement may help an application. There are several forms to fill out, and it may be helpful to hire a disability lawyer to receive the benefits ….
Supplemental Security Income Disability Program
Supplemental Security Income is based on financial need. Overseen by Social Security, it’s designed to help people who are elderly or have disabilities and little or no income. SSI pays for expenses like food, clothing and shelter. Participants get monthly checks. Payment amounts vary by state and individual situations.
VA Disability Benefits
Veterans with disabilities as a result of military service qualify for tax-free monthly Department of Veterans Affairs disability benefit payments. The VA ranks disability level from 10% to 100%. In 2022, the rate was $152.44 a month for 10% disability and $3332.06 for 100% disability and no dependents. Rates change depending on disability rating and number of dependents. The VA disability calculator can help you determine your benefit amount.
Veterans with disabilities can also qualify for the Home Improvements and Structural Alteration (HISA) Grant. The grant provides money to make improvements and structural alterations to homes to accommodate a disability.
Financial Help for Disabled Veterans
About 90% of veterans have health care coverage through the VA, according to the Wounded Warriors 2021 Survey, which does an annual report on veterans and in-service military personnel who have been injured, either physically or mentally. The others have private insurance, with about 3% not having any insurance.
The unemployment rate for disabled veterans is 13%, the survey said, with 1 in 10 of disabled veteran families living in poverty.
About 26% of veterans have a disability, and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates more than 40,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. More than twice that number will find themselves homeless at some point every year. Most homeless veterans have medical and mental issues and difficulty accessing care or paying for it, the survey said.
The VA offers programs and benefits specifically for disabled veterans, including:
- Disability compensation: Using VA disability benefits.
- Automobile Allowance: Help adapting cars to meet the needs of the disability.
- Clothing Allowance: Annual stiped for those with unique clothing needs.
- Housing Grants: Money for housing needs.
- Veterans Insurance: Life insurance for those given a VA rating for a service-connected disability. Totally disabled vets are eligible for free premiums and can buy additional insurance.
- Mortgage Life Insurance: Protects disabled veterans who have been approved for a VA Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant
- Job Training: Training to help gain employment.
- Education Assistance: Education benefits for those seeking a degree or other eligible education and training.
- Dependents’ Educational Assistant: Helps survivors’ dependents earn a degree or receive training.
The VA also offers programs for all veterans, including:
- Caregiver Support: Support and services for family caregivers of veterans.
- GI Bill: Education training and assistance for veterans.
- Health Benefits: Those who have served in any branch of the military qualify for VA health care benefits.
- Patient Care: Hospitalization, prescriptions and medical care for veterans and active military at 1,233 VA hospitals or health care centers in America.
- Pension Benefits: Tax-free monetary benefit payable to low-income wartime veterans with at least 90 days of active-duty service.
- Vet Centers: Provides counseling, outreach and referral services to veterans.
- Free Financial Counseling: Available from nonprofit debt management agencies for veterans and in-service military personnel.
Other agencies provide financial help to disabled veterans. Some are:
Lifeline: A government program that helps pay for veterans’ phone services.
VA.gov: Provides veterans a list of prescription resources that help pay and manage prescription refills.
National Association of American Veterans Emergency Assistance: Refers veterans and their families to financial assistance services.
USACares Emergency America’s Heroes: Helps post 9/11 veterans pay essential bills, including food and utilities, average grant is $650.
American Legion Temporary Financial Assistance: Grants for families of eligible veterans with minor children for shelter, food, utilities and health care.
Vantage Mobility International Operation Independence: Eligible disabled veterans can get a grant to help pay for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.
Luke’s Wings: Buys plane tickets, plans trips, for families of disabled veterans so they can visit the veteran during hospitalization and rehabilitation.
Recycled Rides: Provides refurbished vehicles to qualifying veterans at no cost.
Wounded Warrior Project: Provides programs and resources for disabled veterans, in-service military personnel and their families and caregivers at no cost.
Financial Help for Disabled Children
There are several government benefits and nonprofit resources that provide financial assistance for disabled children, including the SSI program, Medicaid, Medicaid waivers, tax deductions, scholarships and grants.
SSI for Children with Disabilities
Supplemental Security Income is for children under 18 who meet the Social Security Administration definition of disabled. Children get the same SSI benefit as disabled adults if the family’s income doesn’t exceed limits. The federal base monthly payment increases yearly with cost of living. In 2022 it was $841 a month for an induvial, $1,261 for a couple. Some states have higher rates.
Medicaid and Medicaid Waivers for Children with Disabilities
Medicaid provides money for disabled children who need a certain level of care if their family has a limited income. In most states, SSI qualification means the child also qualifies for Medicaid. A Medicaid waiver is available in 44 states if family income is too high. Waiver states (and Washington, D.C.) count the child’s income, rather than the family’s, to allow the waiver, sometimes called a “TEFRA waiver,” after the 1982 law that made it possible. What different states allow under the waiver varies. Visit KidsWaivers.org to see what’s available in your state.
Medicare for Adult Children with Disabilities
Adult children with disabilities who are under the care of a parent or guardian may also qualify for Medicare, the program that provides health care for those over 65. An adult child with a disability who is younger than the qualifying age and being cared for by a parent or guardian qualifies if they have kidney disease that requires a transplant or maintenance dialysis, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Tax Deductions for Children with Disabilities
There are several tax credits and deductions for taxpayers with disabled children of any age.
A tax credit lowers the amount of taxes paid; a deduction reduces taxable income.
The Internal Revenue Service defines a dependent child as permanently and totally disabled, who cannot engage in substantial gainful activity. The IRS determines who qualifies, and requires a doctor’s determination, including that the condition is expected to last for at least a year, or can lead to death.
Deductions can be taken for home improvements to accommodate a disability, medication, medical care-related trips and more.
Tax credits are:
- Dependent with a Disability Working at a Sheltered Workshop: Family’s gross income can’t include the child’s workshop pay.
- Adoption Credit: For parents who adopt a child with special needs.
- EITC for Parents of Children with Disabilities: For parents who care for a permanently and totally disabled child (of any age) in the home.
- Child or Dependent Care Credit: For those who hire a home care aide.
Grants for Children with Disabilities
Many nonprofit organizations offer financial help for children with disabilities that may include paying for equipment, medical visits, care and more. The best way to find a grant that fits your situation is to look online for grants for disabled children, or for a specific disability.
Some national organizations that offer grants:
Easter Seals: Provides services, resources; website has a form to find local services.
The M.O.R.G.A.N. Project: Connects families with resources and provides financial assistance for medical-related travel and more.
The Federation for Children with Special Needs: Provides information, resources, assistance.
Parker’s Purpose Foundation Assistance: Provides grants up to $1,000 for families in immediate financial need because of medical expenses for child with a life-threatening illness or disability. Ohio residents get priority.
First Hand Foundation: Financial help for immediate need medical expenses.
Government Programs for Children with Disabilities
Other government programs that provide benefits for families with disabled children include:
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Administered through state governments, provides financial help for immediate living needs.
- SNAP: Formerly food stamps, provides money for food.
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Provides medical bill help for parents who don’t qualify for Medicaid.
Financial Aid for Disabled Students
While 45% of Americans over 25 who do not have a disability have at least an associate degree, only 25% of those with a disability do. About 19% of college students have a disability, ranging from learning challenges to mental health to mobility challenges.
Some of reasons students with disabilities don’t pursue higher education are that they don’t feel they’ll have a good support system, or they’re not encouraged to go to college. The biggest barrier, however, is finances. College is often more expensive for students with a disability, sometimes involving increased housing, technology, transportation costs and more. If the student comes from a low-income family, that increases the challenge. The good news is that there are many scholarships and other financial services available to disabled students.
Some scholarship resources for disabled students are:
- The National Directory of Financial Assistance Programs for Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities provides an extensive list of financial help for students with disabilities.
- The National Center for College Students with Disabilities Clearinghouse has scholarship information, as well as information on college resources, campus groups, legislation and more.
- College Funding for Students with Disabilities provides strategies and resources.
- Scholorships.com lists scholarships for disabled students.
Student Loan Forgiveness for Persons with Disabilities
A total and permanent disability (TPD) discharge waives repayment of William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and Federal Perkins loans, as well as waives completing a TEACH Grant service obligation. A TPD discharge requires application and documentation.
Financial Assistance for Older Adults with Disabilities
There are many government benefits, as well as nonprofit resources, that offer financial help for seniors with disabilities. Many programs for seniors that help provide meals, housing, health care and financial assistance aren’t specifically for seniors with disabilities but can provide needed help to those with one.
Benefits for seniors with disabilities include:
- Supplemental Security Income: SSI is federally funded financial assistance for those over 65, as well as people younger than 65 who have mental or physical disabilities. It provides monthly payments for food, clothes and shelter. The base monthly federal amount varies depending on living situation and income. SSI is for individuals who have not paid into the Social Security system through employment, or as a supplement to Social Security Disability or Retirement Benefits for individuals whose benefits don’t meet basic needs. Those who qualify for SSI also automatically qualify for SNAP food benefits and Medicaid.
- Medicaid: Provides medical coverage for those over 65 who are under a certain income level, or those who have a severe medical or physical impairment, even if they’re under 65. People who get Medicaid may also get Medicare, which is general health coverage for those over 65.
- National Council on Aging Benefits Checkup: Provides benefits information for seniors both with and without disabilities.
- Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE): Provides Medicaid and Medicare-covered home care for those over 55, allowing them to stay in their homes. It’s free for Medicaid patients, fee-based for those on Medicare.
- Area Agencies on Aging: Designated agencies on aging coordinate Meals on Wheels deliveries, provide resources and help for seniors, as well as classes and activities.
- Eldercare Locator: The U.S. Administration on Aging webpage connects seniors to resources in their community, including housing, transportation, health care, financial help and more.
Grants for people with disabilities – financial help that doesn’t have to be repaid – are available from both the federal government and private organizations. They all require filling out an application, and some require a written proposal.
Eligibility requirements are found on the website of the organization offering the grant. If you can’t find guidelines, or have questions, contact the organization to make sure you understand what’s involved.
Some available grants are:
- Housing: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers programs funded by grants that assist people with disabilities in getting housing vouchers, rental assistance, buying a home and making homes accessible. For information, visit the HUD website or contact your state’s housing authority or agency. The Housing Choice Voucher can help recipients buy a home or pay for monthly housing expenses.
- Education: Private foundations offer grants from $1,000 to $25,000 for individuals with mental, physical or sensorial disabilities. To find the foundations that don’t have websites, visit Foundation Center.
- Adaptive Grants: Multiple private organizations provide specific grants available that allow those with disabilities to adapt homes or technology, or expand resources. NewMobility.com lists organizations that provide grants for adaptive vehicle and modification, rehabilitation and therapy, assistive technology, adaptive sports equipment and more.
- Starting A Business: The federal government offers grants for disabled people starting a business. Visit Grants.gov.
- Personal Needs: Local community agencies offer grants for people with disabilities who need help to pay household expenses. Local social service programs can provide money for groceries, utilities, transportation, as well as vocational rehabilitation. Check with your town or city hall, or state Department of Health and Human Services.
- Government Cash Grants: State and federal governments offer grants for veterans, children, low-income people, families with newborns and others. Proof of disability, type of need and household income must be provided to apply. The grants pay for utilities, transportation, education and more. Check with your town or city hall, or state Department of Health and Human Services.
Low-Interest Loans for the Disabled
There are several low-interest loan programs for people with disabilities – all of them much better than payday loans, car title loans and same-day disability loans, which often have crippling interest rates that make a bad financial situation much worse.
Government and nonprofit disability loans will help, not hurt, your situation. They can be used for everyday needs and expenses of individuals who are physically or mentally disabled or take care of someone who is.
Government disability loans, unlike other government disability assistance, must be paid back. Unlike same-day disability loans, government disability loans have strict approval criteria. Government disability loans also have better interest rates, repayment terms and customer service. Eligibility could be affected by whether you already receive government assistance.
U.S. Department of Agriculture housing repair loans can pay to modify a home to accommodate a disability. There are income and residency requirements, and the applicant must show they cannot get credit elsewhere. The maximum loan is $20,000 over a 20-year payoff at 1% interest; grants are available for those in need 62 or older at a maximum of $7,500. To apply, contact a USDA home loan specialist in your state. To see if your live in an eligible area, visit the USDA address check page.
Your local bank or credit union may also be a loan resource. Government and nonprofit organizations partner with lenders to provide services for veterans, low-income families and those with disabilities.
National Charities and Organizations that Help Disabled Persons
Aside from government programs, there are numerous national charities and organizations that offer help to disabled persons, including advocating for them and providing legal resources.
Some of them are:
- National Disability Rights Center works with agencies that provide legal advocacy for people in every state.
- Disability Rights Legal Center, fights for physical and technology access.
- National Disability Institute a nonprofit that provides financial education and resources.
- Friends of Disabled Adults and Children provides refurbished equipment and resources.
- Wheelchair Foundation has a goal of providing a free wheelchair to anyone worldwide who needs one but has no means to acquire one.
- Patient Advocate Foundation provides patient services and eliminates obstacles to health care for those with disabilities.
- HealthWell Foundation reduces financial barriers to care for underinsured patients with chronic or life-altering diseases.
Federal Agencies that Help the Disabled
Many government agencies can help people with disabilities.
- Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (800-872-2253) — Provides technical assistance on architectural, transportation and communications accessibility issues.
- Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (1-866-633-7365) —Develops and influences disability-related employment policy.
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (800-669-4000) — Sets regulations and enforces American Disabilities Act Title I provisions prohibiting employment discrimination.
- Federal Employee Retirement System (1-888-767-6738) – Retirement plan that provides benefits for federal employees.
- Internal Revenue Service (800-829-1040) — Provides tax information for people with disabilities.
- National Council on Disability (202-272-2004) — Advises the federal government on policies and more that affect people with disabilities.
- National Institute on Disability Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (800-677-1116) — Administers disability research programs and ADA technical assistant centers to maximize inclusion and support of people with disabilities in the community.
- Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (800-514-0301) — Announces regulations and enforces anti-discrimination provisions involving public services and accommodations, as well as handling complaints from those who believe their child’s school has denied them access or violated their civil rights.
- gov (877-889-5627) — An online resource that provides disabled people with information and resources.
- State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program-Rehabilitation Services Administration (202-245-7488) — Assists employers in recruiting, training, placing and accommodating people with disabilities, and offers information on state and local agencies that provide services, training and job-related assistance.
Unemployment Rate and the Disabled
The employment rate for people with disabilities who are able to work has risen steadily since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began keeping track in 2008. By 2022, 37.6% of Americans between the ages of 16 and 65 with a disability were employed. (If those over 65, who account for half of Americans with disabilities, are added, the percentage is 22.5%).
Even so, it is still more difficult for those with disabilities to get a job than those without.
The BLS reports:
- The unemployment rate for those between 16 and 64 in the labor force with a disability was 7.9% in September 2022; the unemployment rate for those without a disability was 3.6%.
- Some 3.6% of the total U.S. workforce of 148,048,000 between ages 16-64 has a disability.
- Persons with a disability are more likely to be employed part-time because of business climate (rather than choice) or self-employed than those with no disability.
- Persons with a disability are more likely to work in service occupations, production, transportation and materials moving, and less likely to work in management, professional, and related occupations.
The BLS defines a disability as:
- Deaf or serious difficulty hearing; blind or serious difficulty seeing even with glasses
As well as serious difficulty:
- Concentrating, remembering, making decisions because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition
- Walking or climbing stairs
- Dressing or bathing
- Doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition
Speak with a Professional
While there are plenty of programs for disabled Americans that offer financial assistance, benefits and resources, sometimes they’re not enough or difficult to access. If you can’t get benefits that you’re eligible for, you may want to speak with a disability lawyer, Social Security lawyer or other disability advocate. A disability lawyer or other disability advocate will assess your situation for free, and only charge you if they take on your case.
If you need financial assistance, a nonprofit credit counselor can help you create a budget and review your finances. Many people who have trouble making ends meet max out their credit cards, and a nonprofit credit counselor, at no cost, can help sort out the best debt-relief options for your situation. You may qualify for a nonprofit debt management program that consolidates your bills and lowers your interest rates, providing another financial resource that may help if you’re living with a disability.
About The Author
Pat McManamon has been a journalist for more than 25 years. His experience has mainly been in sports, but the world of athletics requires knowledge of business and economics. He also can balance a checkbook and keep track of investments with Quicken quite adeptly. McManamon’s experience includes covering the NFL for ESPN, LeBron James for the Akron Beacon Journal and AOL Fanhouse, and the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes for the Palm Beach Post.
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