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Parents of children with disabilities are often unsure of where to turn for financial and health care assistance for their children. There are several options available, each with its own qualifications.

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, provides monthly payments for children with disabilities who are under 18 who meet the government’s definition of disability, and who have little or no income and resources.  The amount of SSI that the child will receive varies by state.  To qualify, the household’s total income and resources must be below a certain amount, and the child cannot earn more than a certain dollar amount each month.

Social Security Disability Insurance, also known as SSDI, provides benefits to disabled or blind persons who are “insured” by workers contributions to the Social Security trust fund. These contributions are based on the individual’s earnings or the earnings of the spouse or parent according to the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Title II of the Social Security Act authorizes SSDI benefits. Dependents of those insured under SSDI may also be eligible for these benefits.

Medicaid can provide access to health care to children with disabilities. Some states will approve a child for Medicaid if he or she is already receiving SSI. Other states require a separate application process. However, SSI is not a prerequisite for Medicaid.

Families with slightly higher incomes may qualify for State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), which covers a wide variety of health care needs. S-CHIP is a good alternative for families who do not meet the requirements for Medicaid, but who cannot afford to pay for private insurance.

There may be other financial and health care assistance options available depending on your state. If you are a parent who would like more information about financial and health care options, contact an experienced special needs planning attorney.

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