Key Programs

There are many different disability benefits programs. This section explains 3 of the most important ones:

Make sure you understand why these programs are important by reading the introductions to them below. Private health care coverage is also discussed, as it is an important health coverage alternative.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the most important income support benefit for young people with disabilities. Even if you have 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

People who are disabled or blind may not be able to work or afford to live on their own. If you have a disability, don’t have enough money for your basic needs, don’t have much income, and have limited assets, you may be able to get SSI. If you have a disability, are under the age of 18, and your parents have low income and limited assets, you may also be eligible for SSI.

What You Get

If you qualify for SSI, you get a monthly check. This money helps you pay your expenses, like food and rent. If you get SSI, you also qualify automatically for Medi-Cal.

To learn more, read the section on SSI Eligibility for Young People.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is another major income support benefit for people with disabilities. When you work, taxes are taken out of your paycheck. Some of those taxes are automatically paid into the SSDI program. If you have paid enough money into SSDI, you will get SSDI benefits if your disability prevents you from working.

SSDI isn’t a very important program for most young people, because they haven’t worked long enough to get benefits from it. While you probably don’t qualify for SSDI now, if you get a job, you will qualify later, and the more you work, the bigger your SSDI check will be if you need it!

To learn more, read DB101’s section on SSDI.

Medi-Cal

Medi-Cal is the most important public health benefit for young people with disabilities.

Who It Helps

Medi-Cal is for people who cannot afford medical expenses, including people who are disabled, young, or pregnant. To get it, you and your family must have low income. If you’re on SSI, you automatically qualify for Medi-Cal.

What You Get

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

To learn more, read the section on Medi-Cal Eligibility for Young People.

Medi-Cal's Working Disabled Program (WDP)

Medi-Cal’s Working Disabled Program (WDP) lets you get a job and keep your Medi-Cal health coverage.

Who It Helps

The WDP program is for people with disabilities who have jobs. There is an income limit, but it is higher than the income limit for regular Medi-Cal. You also have to pay a monthly premium, with the amount of the premium depending on your income.

What You Get

The WDP program pays for the same services that regular Medi-Cal covers, including visits to the doctor, hospital stays, medical equipment, and other medical services.

To learn more, read the section on Working Disabled Program Eligibility for Young People.

1619(b)

There is another way you can keep getting Medi-Cal while you work. If you lose your SSI because of earnings from work, you can continue to get Medi-Cal through a rule called SSI 1619(b). It is exactly the same Medi-Cal coverage that you had before you started working. Rule 1619(b) is explained in more detail in Medi-Cal Eligibility for Young People.

Private Health Care Coverage

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

Who It Helps

People get private health care coverage in different ways. Some people have private health care coverage that is paid for by their employers; others get it from their parents’ employers; and some people pay for it with their own money. 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 for your monthly premium through tax subsidies.

What You Get

Private health care coverage pays for some of your medical costs when you see a doctor or other health care provider, or get prescription medicine at a pharmacy. Depending on your private health care coverage plan, the plan may pay for almost the entire cost of your medical expenses, or it may pay only a portion of those expenses.

To learn more, read the section on Private Health Care Coverage for Young People.