Benefits for Young People


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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.

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.

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), 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.

Covered California is the best way to find an individual health insurance plan.

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

Getting Help with Your Benefits

If you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB), and you're looking for a job, a trained Benefits Planner can help you avoid problems with your job plan. If you need help or have questions about your situation, you can call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY), Monday through Friday.

View DB101's full list of experts who can help you understand different benefits.

Community-Based Organizations

Various community-based organizations guide people through state, federal, public, and private health and income programs. Some organizations may work with specific populations while others work with people with any type of disability. Here are a few examples

Goodwill Industries services range from personal evaluation and office skills training to career counseling, childcare, and transportation. Some Goodwill Industries centers also do benefits planning for people who get SSI, SSDI, and Medicare. Find locations at, or by calling (voice) 1-800-466-3945.

The California Foundation for Independent Living Centers lists centers serving people with all disabilities. Many of these centers do benefits planning for people who get SSI, SSDI, and Medicare. If they don't offer benefits planning themselves, Independent Living Centers can refer you to local benefits planners. Find the list of independent living centers at, 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 offering HIV/AIDS services throughout California. Some of these organizations provide case management, benefits planning, and benefits counseling services that can include help 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.

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