Key Programs

There are many different disability benefits programs. This section explains three 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)

SSI is the most important income support benefit for young people. 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 it provides

If you qualify for SSI, you get a monthly check. This money helps you pay your expenses, like food and rent. Most people who get SSI also qualify for Medical Assistance (MA).

Learn more in SSI Eligibility for Young People.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):

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.

Medical Assistance (MA)

MA is the most important public health benefit for young people with disabilities.

Who it helps

MA is for people who cannot afford medical expenses, including people who are disabled, young, or pregnant. Generally, to get it, you or your family must have low income.

What it provides

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

Read MA Eligibility for Young People to learn more.

MinnesotaCare

MinnesotaCare is another public program that is very similar to MA. It is most helpful for people who are 18 or over, do not have a disability determination, make too much income for MA according to the rules in DB101's MA article, and cannot get coverage through an employer. Read DB101's MinnesotaCare article to learn more.

Note: Some immigrants under 18 may be able to get MinnesotaCare even if they do not qualify for MA. In most other cases, if you are under 18, you will not qualify for MinnesotaCare because you could get MA instead.

Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD) Basics

MA-EPD lets you get a job, save up some money, and keep your MA health coverage.

Who it helps

MA-EPD is for people with disabilities who have jobs. There is no income limit, but you do have to pay a monthly premium to get it, with the amount of the premium depending on your income.

What it provides

MA-EPD pays for the same services that standard MA covers, including visits to the doctor, hospital stays, medical equipment, and other medical services.

Learn more in MA-EPD Eligibility for Young People.

1619(b)

There is another way you can keep getting MA while you work. If you lost your SSI because of earnings from work, you can continue to get MA through a rule called SSI 1619(b). It is exactly the same MA coverage that you had before you started working. 1619(b) is explained in more detail in MA 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 it provides

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.

Read Private Health Care Coverage for Young People to learn more.