• Heather

Government Benefits and Your Transition Student: SSI, SSDI, Medicaid, and Medicaid Waiver

Updated: 2 days ago

Connecting young adults with disabilities with the right supports, services, and benefits is KEY to success after they accept their diploma and leave transition services. If you are newer to teaching life skills or transition, then you may need an overview of what ‘supports, services, and benefits’ look like for individuals with disabilities over 18 years old.


As you know, and your families will find out, IDEA is ‘entitlement’ based and ADA (and stuff like these benefits) is ‘eligibility’ based, so it does require some time, effort, and documentation proof to secure these benefits.


While exact program details look different in every state, there are four main benefits that individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities may access to support their life and needs.


Let’s pretend that I was a ‘benefit’ and I’m giving you my elevator pitch!


If I was SSI

I’m a federal program that offers monthly payments to offset the cost of living since obtaining and maintaining a competitive job may be challenging. These funds can be used to pay for the care and materials needed to live. Even if someone gets SSI (me), they can still work and earn an income and it is definitely to their benefit to do so!


If I was SSDI…

I’m an insurance that is offered to individuals who receive SSI and have held a competitive job for a while. After a few years, I help those people get Medicare.


If I was Medicaid…

I’m a federal and state insurance. I typically provide insurance to individuals who have low income or have a disability. I can help pay for medical care that they may need to stay healthy.


If I was a Medicaid Waiver…

I’m money that individuals receive to help them live in their home with family support or out in the community. Getting the support needed to live where you want and need can be expensive and this helps offset that constant cost.



Your students and their families may be appropriate and eligible for 1, 2, 3, or even all 4 programs. Sad but true, nothing about applying for benefits is quick, but it is typically always worth the time and effort on the front end for extended support and services.


To find information on SSI, download this 1 page What You Need to Know About SSI (which is also available in Spanish).


To find information on SSDI, check out this website.


To find your state’s Medicaid and Medicaid Waiver program information, Google ‘Medicaid (State) Adult Disabled' or ‘Medicaid Waiver (State) Adult’ and click on the Government/Health/Disability Department website for the most accurate information, contact information for local offices to apply, and additional details.


If you want to better understand benefits and how to help your families and students get connected with these, PLEASE CLICK HERE to download the SSI resource and get added to my email list!