Written by Phil Cerroni
By Jason Alderman
Parents of special needs children have enough on their plates just tending to the health, educational and emotional needs of their kids – not to mention often having to cope with drastically lowered income because of reduced work hours or having to pay someone else for childcare. So it's not surprising that many of these parents haven't had time to hatch a long-term financial plan in case their kids need care after they're not around.
Here's a brief overview of key government assistance programs:
The Social Security Administration provides two types of disability coverage: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). Rules and eligibility requirements differ between the two programs – and benefits differ for children and adults.
In a nutshell, SSI is a needs-based, cash-assistance program for disabled people of any age in low-income families with limited resources. Children qualify for SSI benefits if they meet certain strict criteria outlined in SSA Publication 05-11000 (www.ssa.gov/pubs/11000.html).
SSDI is a separate program funded by payroll deductions (part of FICA). Although children sometimes receive SSDI payments if their parents are disabled, their eligibility is based on their parents' disability status, not on their own. However, after turning 22, already disabled children may qualify for SSDI on their own if at least one parent qualifies for Social Security benefits.