Other Programs

There are many other benefits programs that you may qualify for. If you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and are over 18, you probably can also get Nutrition Assistance and if your income and resources are low enough, you may also be able to get income support from the Cash Assistance (CA) program.

Depending on your circumstances, two Social Security programs may give you benefits based on contributions your parents made during their careers: Child’s Benefits and Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB).

A third set of programs, including ABLE Accounts, Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), help you save up money or other resources without losing your other benefits.

Nutrition Assistance and Cash Assistance (CA)

Nutrition Assistance, sometimes called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), helps people with low incomes and low resources pay for food. Nutrition Assistance used to be called Food Stamps, but it changed names and works a little differently now. Instead of using stamps, you get a plastic card called an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card that looks and works like a debit card. Arizona puts money on the EBT card each month and you use the card to pay for food. For more details, read DB101’s article on Nutrition Assistance.

Cash Assistance (CA) gives money to families who don't have enough to pay for basic needs like food, clothing, and rent. CA defines a family as 1 or 2 parents living with their child or children under 18. The age limit is 19 for children who are in school full-time. A family could include biological children, step-children, adopted children, and children of relatives. For more details, read DB101’s article on Cash Assistance.

In order to get Nutrition Assistance or Cash Assistance, you must have low income and limited resources. There are 3 ways for you to apply for these programs:

You can apply for Nutrition Assistance and Cash Assistance at the same time and you can also use the same form to apply for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). If you need help completing an application, talk to a Work Incentive Consultant.

Child’s Benefits (only if you are under 19)

The most common way for adults to get Social Security benefits like SSDI or retirement benefits is to work and pay into Social Security’s trust fund.

For young people, however, a more common way to get Social Security benefits is to qualify for Child’s Benefits. You do not need to have a disability to qualify for Child’s Benefits. To get them, you must:

  • Be under the age of 18 (or 19 if you’re attending high school or other secondary education)
  • Not be married, and
  • Have a parent who gets Social Security retirement benefits or SSDI. If your parent is deceased, you may also qualify.

Note: You'll get Child's Benefits in any month your parent gets a Social Security disability or retirement benefit. You will also get benefits if your parent is deceased and would have qualified for benefits based on his or her work record. That means that if your parent is in SSDI's Trial Work Period, you'll keep getting Child's Benefits, but during the Extended Period of Eligibility, you'll only get a Child's Benefit in any month your parent gets an SSDI benefit. Make sure to notify Social Security if your family is in this situation.

You can apply for Child’s Benefits at your local Social Security Office, or by calling 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY). If you have questions about this, talk to a Work Incentive Consultant.

Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB) (only if you are 18 or older)

If you have a disability, you may be eligible to get money each month through the Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB) program.

CDB is based on your parent’s work record. You can only get CDB if you are 18 or older. In order to qualify for CDB, you must also:

  • Have become disabled before you turned 22
  • Not be married, unless your spouse also gets SSDI or CDB
  • Meet the adult definition of disability, and
  • Have a parent who gets Social Security retirement benefits or SSDI. If your parent is deceased, you may also qualify.

You don’t automatically get CDB when you turn 18. You can apply for it at your local Social Security Office, or by telephone at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY).

If you get CDB, you can also get health coverage through Medicare after a 2-year waiting period.

To learn more about CDB, talk to a Work Incentive Consultant.

Asset-Building Programs

Asset-building programs are a different type of benefits designed to help you save money you have earned. Instead of sending you a check or paying for your health care expenses, asset-building programs help you save money so that you can afford to pay for your own expenses, such as education, buying a car, or even retirement.

ABLE Accounts

If your disability began before you turned 26, you can open an ABLE account where over time you can save up to $100,000 in resources and not have them counted by SSI. ABLE accounts mean that if you get a job, you can start saving some money without losing your benefits. Additionally, the money in an ABLE account gets tax advantages similar to the way retirement accounts work.

However, ABLE accounts have restrictions:

  • They can only be opened through specific programs or institutions.
  • You can only open one ABLE account.
  • You and the other people making contributions on your behalf have a limit on how much you can deposit each year. Combined, you cannot deposit more than $15,000 in 2019.
  • You can only use money in an ABLE account for specific things, such as:
    • Education
    • Housing
    • Transportation
    • Help getting and keeping work
    • Health care
    • Assistive technology, and
    • Other approved expenses.

Learn more about ABLE accounts.

Individual Development Accounts (IDA)

An IDA helps people save money for a specific goal, such as purchasing a home, starting a small business, or paying for education. The great thing about an IDA is that for every dollar you save, the bank or other financial institution where you have your account will match your money. For example, if you save $50 per month, the financial institution might contribute $100 per month. The amount they’ll contribute depends on the institution, but sometimes they will put more money into your account than you do!

To open an IDA:

  • You must have low income, and
  • The money you contribute must be money that you earned from work, not from a benefits check, your parents, or any other source.
Important information for people on Supplemental Security Income (SSI):

If you are getting SSI, it is very important that you enroll in an IDA that is federally funded through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Assets for Independence Act (AFIA). (You do not need to be getting TANF benefits in order to do a federally funded IDA program.)

SSI does not count money deposited into federally funded IDAs, so the money you save will not cause your SSI benefits to be reduced or eliminated.

If you enroll in a nonfederally funded IDA (for example, one funded by a nonprofit or private company), money deposited and matched in your IDA could affect your benefits.

IDAs are a great money-saving tool, but you need to be sure and enroll in the right type of IDA so that you don’t jeopardize your benefits. To learn more, read DB101’s article on Individual Development Accounts.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) gives money to low to moderate income workers and families. Even people who don’t make enough money to owe income taxes may be able to get a check from the IRS if they qualify for this tax credit.

To qualify, the only requirement is that you have income from employment, self-employment, or employer-paid disability benefits. If your income is too high, you will no longer qualify for the credit.

Be sure to file your taxes

To get the Earned Income Tax Credit, you need to file your taxes, even if you owe nothing! Make sure to complete the “Schedule EIC” as well. This is free money, and lots of people don’t get it because they don’t know!

The amount of your EITC depends on your family size and income. The maximum credit for 2018 (filing by April 2019) ranges from $519 to $6,431. Make sure to file your taxes and apply!

For more details, read DB101’s Tax Credit page.