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Financial Assistance and Support Services for People with Disabilities

Explore a wide range of programs and tools to help with housing, taxes, medical bills, service and emotional support animals, and more.

Help with Medical Bills

Medicaid and CHIP (Health Care for Children)

What help is available?

Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides help with paying medical costs for children of families who cannot afford health insurance or don't get it through their work. Learn more about eligibility and how to sign up for Medicaid and CHIP

Social Security and Medicare

What help is available?

Local Social Security Administration (SSA) offices help those on Social Security and Medicare find help. People over 65, people with disabilities under 65, and people with end-stage kidney disease are eligible for Medicare. Learn more about how to apply for Medicare

Medicaid for Adults

What help is available?

You may qualify for Medicaid, a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Am I eligible?

Each state has different rules about eligibility and applying for Medicaid for adults. Learn more about eligibility. 

How do I apply?

Each state has different application requirements for Medicaid for adults. Call your state Medicaid program to see if you qualify and to learn how to apply.

Health Insurance Through the Health Insurance Marketplace

What help is available?

HealthCare.gov helps you find insurance options, compare care, learn about preventive services, and more. If your employer does not offer insurance, you are self-employed, or you prefer to purchase your own insurance, you and your family can get health, dental, and vision insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Am I eligible?

Everyone is eligible for health insurance through the Marketplace. You may also qualify for subsidies to help pay your premiums. 2019 Open Enrollment runs from November 1, 2018, to December 15, 2018. If you’ve experienced certain life changes, like loss of a job or childbirth, you may be eligible to make changes to your health insurance in a Special Enrollment Period.

How do I apply?

How you apply for a plan in the Health Insurance Marketplace depends on what plan you choose. Learn more about applying.

How do I complain or where do I call for extra help?

Visit the Health Insurance Marketplace's top questions section for additional help with finding or applying for health care. To file a complaint, call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).

Is there anything else I need to know?

If you need more help getting or paying for medical care, try these resources:

If you are uninsured or underinsured and must seek emergency medical treatment:

Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), you're guaranteed access to an emergency medical evaluation, even if you can't pay. The act requires hospitals that receive Medicare funding and that provide emergency services to evaluate anyone who comes to their emergency room and requests treatment. If the evaluation confirms that you have an emergency medical condition, including active labor, they are then required to provide stabilizing treatment for you regardless of your ability to pay.

Housing Resources for People with Disabilities

A variety of federal, state, and local housing programs can help you find and afford a place to live, modify an existing home for disabilities, or help you develop skills to live independently.

Each program has its own eligibility rules and application process.

Rental Housing

Homeownership

Independent Living Skills

  • State and local independent living centers can help you develop skills to live on your own with a disability.

  • Contact your state to find out how its department of human services or disability office may be able to assist with modifications, housing counseling, locating rental housing, and independent living skills.

How do I complain?

You may require things like ramps, grab bars, or service animals. It is illegal for housing providers to deny someone housing because of a disability or refuse to make reasonable accommodations for a tenant with a disability. Learn more about disability rights in housing and how to file a complaint if you feel that you’ve been a victim of housing discrimination.

Get Help Modifying Your Vehicle for Disabilities

If you’re thinking of adapting your vehicle for your disability, these tips on modifying or buying a vehicle can help.

Get Financial Help Buying a Vehicle or Modifying It for Disabilities

Start by contacting your state vocational rehabilitation agency. The agency can point you to state grant and loan programs that may help cover costs. You can also look into other ways to pay. Depending on your situation and where you live, these can include:

  • Local nonprofit organizations

  • Your car insurance

  • Workers’ compensation

  • Vehicle manufacturers

  • Tax assistance

If you’re a service member or veteran with a disability, you may qualify for help from the Department of Veterans Affairs to help pay for vehicle modifications.

Find and Get Help Paying for a Driver Rehabilitation Specialist

A driver rehabilitation specialist (DRS) will identify the best vehicle modifications for you. They'll give you advice on buying an adapted vehicle. To find a qualified DRS in your area, check with your local rehabilitation center.  

Get Help Paying for an Evaluation

You may be able to find sources to cover part or the entire cost of your DRS evaluation.

Check with your:

Find a Qualified Mobility Dealer

Your DRS or rehabilitation agency can help you locate a qualified mobility equipment dealer to:

Get Training for Your Vehicle’s New Disability Equipment

Your DRS can provide hands-on training in using your new equipment, which may be complex. Your vocational rehabilitation agency or workers' compensation may pay for the training.

Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

Service animals are trained to complete work and tasks for the specific, individual needs of people with disabilities. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), dogs may qualify as service animals. In some cases, the ADA also recognizes miniature horses as service animals. Emotional support animals serve as companions to people with disabilities but do not typically perform specific tasks or duties. They are not considered service animals under the ADA, but some state and local governments permit people to take them into public places.   

If you are thinking about getting a service animal, first contact your medical provider. Find out if your disability is covered under the ADA and whether you need a service animal. Your doctor can help provide medical documentation and find a training program. You can also explore a list of service animal programs online, but make sure to research each organization’s background and qualifications carefully.    

What Does a Service Animal Do?

Common tasks include:

  • Guiding a person who is blind

  • Alerting someone who is deaf

  • Aiding and protecting a person who is having a seizure

  • Alerting a person with diabetes of high or low blood sugar

  • Assisting someone in a wheelchair

  • Calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack  

Your Rights with Service and Emotional Support Animals

General - According to the ADA, state and local governments, businesses, and nonprofits that serve the public must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities where the public is typically allowed to go. Under certain state and local government laws, you may bring emotional support animals into public places. Learn what questions a business is legally allowed to ask about service animals, the rules for dealing with service animals and their handlers, and more.     

Housing - The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to permit or reasonably accommodate the use of service animals and emotional support animals by people with disabilities. Find out the housing requirements related to service and emotional support animals.

Travel - The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) allows people with disabilities to travel with a service animal or emotional support animal. You may need documentation to travel with an emotional support animal or service animal for a mental disability.

Learn About Service and Emotional Support Animals for Veterans

The VA provides guide dogs for blind or visually impaired veterans. It also offers service dogs for veterans with other disabilities. Benefits include veterinary care and equipment through VA Prosthetics and Sensory Aids. Learn more about guide and service dogs for veterans.

Currently, the VA does not provide service dogs for veterans with mental disorders, such as PTSD. However, research is underway to see if dogs can help treat PTSD and its symptoms. Get information on service dogs, emotional support dogs, and issues related to PTSD.

ABLE Savings Accounts for People with Disabilities

If you have a significant disability, you may be eligible to open a tax-free Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) savings account. It can help you pay for education, housing, health, and other qualified disability expenses.

Who Is Eligible for an ABLE Account? 

  • To be the designated beneficiary (owner) of the account, you must be blind or have a medical disability which occurred before the age of 26.
  • You may open only one ABLE account.
  • You don’t have to open an account in the state where you live. ABLE accounts are not currently available in every state. However, you can open one in any state with an active ABLE program. Find out which state has the best program for you.

Contributing Funds Toward an ABLE Account

Find out who can contribute to or benefit from an ABLE account. Or, learn about how recently enacted tax laws and regulations apply to ABLE Savings accounts.

  • The maximum annual contribution limit for your account is $15,000.
  • You can exclude taxes on earnings and distributions (withdrawals) from the account. These deductions can help you pay for qualified disability expenses. 

Keep in mind, the new tax law has made several changes to ABLE accounts:

  • If you work, you can contribute your compensation toward your account along with the $15,000 limit. But, this additional contribution cannot be above the income poverty line for a one-person household.
  • You may claim the Saver’s Credit for your contributions to your ABLE account.
  • Families can transfer or rollover funds from a 529 plan to an ABLE account. The account can benefit the account holder or another family member. This counts toward the $15,000 annual contribution limit.

More Important ABLE Account Information

Find out more important things to know about ABLE accounts, including:

  • Where you can open an ABLE account
  • Who can contribute to your account
  • Examples of qualified disability expenses
  • How other federal programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid, can affect your account.

Tax Help for People with Disabilities

If you have a disability, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers resources to help you with your taxes:

Organizations that Provide Help for People with Disabilities

The following organizations provide services and information to people with disabilities:

  • The National Council on Disability (NCD) is an independent federal agency that makes recommendations to the president and Congress to improve the quality of life for Americans with disabilities and their families. The NCD works to empower individuals with disabilities and to promote equal opportunity
  • The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) provides legally based advocacy services for people with disabilities in the U.S.
  • The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) provides training and information to parents of disabled children and to people who work with them. 
  • The U.S. Department of Education has a list of State Special Education agencies to find educational resources and programs for people with disabilities.
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity offers resources and answers questions about the housing rights of people with disabilities, and the responsibilities of housing providers and building and design professionals according to the federal law.
  • National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) administers a free loan service of recorded and Braille books and magazines, music scores in Braille and large print, plus specially designed playback equipment. Service is also extended to eligible American citizens residing abroad. While NLS administers the program, direct service is provided through a national network of cooperating libraries.
  • National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) is a resource center that works to help people with disabilities get healthier by participating more in all types of physical and social activities. NCHPAD also trains service providers to make their programs more inclusive. 
  • Special Olympics is a global organization that changes lives by promoting understanding, acceptance and inclusion among people with and without intellectual disabilities through year-round sports, health, education and community building held around the world.
  • American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) removes barriers, creates solutions, and expands possibilities so people with vision loss can achieve their full potential.

Telecommunications Relay Services

Telecommunications relay services for people with hearing or speaking disabilities link telephone conversations between individuals who use standard voice telephones and those who use the text telephones (TTYs). Calls can be made from either type of telephone to the other type through the relay service. 

Local Relay Services

States provide relay services for local and long distance calls. Consult your local telephone directory or list from the FCC for information on the use, fees (if any), services, and dialing instructions for your area. 

Federal Relay Service

The Federal Relay Service (FRS) is a program of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). It provides access to TTY users to conduct official business nationwide with and within the federal government. The toll-free number is 1-800-377-8642. For more information on relay communications or to obtain a brochure on using the FRS, please call toll-free 1-800-877-0996.

Other Telephone Services

If you use a TTY, you can receive operator and directory assistance for calls by calling toll-free 1-800-855-1155. Check the introductory pages of your local telephone directory for additional TTY services. 

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Last Updated: October 29, 2019

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