Learn More

Benefit programs may give you resources that can help make your life better.

To learn more about the programs discussed in this article, read DB101's sections on:

Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which pays cash benefits to people who are disabled and have limited income and savings. SSI is the most important income support benefit for young people with disabilities.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is financed with Social Security taxes paid by workers, employers, and self-employed persons. SSDI benefits are payable to disabled workers, widows, widowers, and children or adults disabled since childhood who are otherwise eligible.

Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB), which cover disabled adult children of persons who get Social Security disability or retirement benefits. CDB used to be called Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits.

Medi-Cal, which helps people who cannot afford medical expenses, including people who are disabled, young, or pregnant. Medi-Cal is the most important public health benefit for young people with disabilities.

Medi-Cal’s Working Disabled Program, which lets you get a job, save up some money, and keep your Medi-Cal health coverage.

Employer-sponsored health coverage, which is when an employer helps pay for health coverage for employees and the employees' children and spouses.

Individual health coverage, which is health coverage that you pay for yourself and sign up for on Covered California.

CalWORKs (California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids), which is the state welfare-to-work program that gives income support and access to health coverage on a temporary basis. CalWORKs was formerly Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).

Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI), which pays cash benefits to some people with low incomes who cannot qualify for SSI because of their immigration status.

ABLE Accounts let you save up to $100,000 in resources over time and not have them count for SSI, if your disability began before you turned 26.

Plans to Achieve Self-Support (PASS), which is an SSI program that allows you to set aside income and resources for expenses related to a specific work goal. Income that you use for these expenses will not cause your SSI benefits to go down. Resources that you spend on PASS expenses won't count towards the SSI limit.

Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), which help people save money for a specific goal, such as purchasing a home, starting a small business, or paying for education. IDAs are savings accounts in which your deposits are "matched" at a certain rate, such as 2:1, by a bank or other financial institution.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which is a federal income tax credit for low income working individuals and families. The credit reduces the amount of federal income tax you owe and can result in a refund check. Most people claim their Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) when they file their federal income taxes.

Apply for Benefits

Apply for Supplemental Security Income(SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB), formerly called Disabled Adult Child (DAC), and Child’s Benefits at your local Social Security office or by calling 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY).

Apply for Medi-Cal, Medi-Cal’s Working Disabled Program, CalFresh, or CalWORKs at your local county social services agency.

You can also apply for Medi-Cal, CalFresh, or CalWORKS online using BenefitsCal.

The federal government’s Healthcare.gov has a great tool that can help you find an individual health insurance plan.

To apply for a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS), contact your local PASS Cadre.

You can find an IDA using IDA program directories compiled by the Prosperity Now and the Assets for Independence Resource Center.

Getting Help with your Benefits

To find an expert who can provide help with your benefits, visit the DB101 Find an Expert page. For questions about work and your Social Security benefits, you can call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 / 1-866-833-2967 (TTY/TDD).

Community Based Organizations

Various community-based organizations provide staff to work with people concerning a range of options on state, federal, public, and private health and income programs. Counseling about benefits, as a community service, is an emerging field of expertise with different levels of services available. Some organizations may work with specific populations while others work with individuals with any type of disability.

Goodwill Industries services range from personal evaluation and office skills training to career counseling, childcare, and transportation. Some of these centers conduct Benefits Planning Assistance and Outreach for Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries related to work activity.

Goodwill IndustriesFind locations at www.Goodwill.org, or by calling (voice) 1-800-466-3945.

California Foundation for Independent Living Centers logoThe California Foundation for Independent Living Centers lists centers serving individuals with all disabilities. Many of these centers conduct Benefits Planning Assistance and Outreach for Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries related to work activity. Most independent living centers can refer callers to local benefit program information if they do not have these services.

Find the list of independent living centers at www.CFILC.org, or by calling (voice) 1-916-325-1690 or (TTY) 1-916-325-1695.

The California Department of Public Health's Office of AIDS lists 1,300 organizations providing HIV/AIDS services throughout California. Some of these organizations offer case management, benefits planning, and benefits counseling services that can include assistance with public and private benefits programs. You can search the list online, or call (voice) 1-800-367-AIDS (2437) or (TTY) 1-888-225-AIDS (2437).

Disability Rights California provides representation for consumers of public programs who are disabled. Website publications include topics on health care, benefit programs, and In-Home Supportive Services.