When applying for financial assistance, the Social Security Administration won’t count disability-related expenses as part of your income. For instance, if a good portion of your income goes towards paying for special transportation, medical bills or disability-related equipment, those expenses won’t count against you when you apply for financial assistance. You may find out that your government benefits and free transportation are only a few clicks or a phone call away.
Contact your state’s Department of Transportation, see Resources, to ask about local transportation services. There may be a door-to-door van service for the disabled available for free in your area. If you live in or near an urban area, there will probably be a free bus service set on a fixed schedule. Many such urban transit systems also include special services for the elderly and disabled.
Typically, to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must have a serious medical condition that is expected to last a year or result in death — and you must also have a long enough work history of paying Social Security taxes. However, the younger you are when you become disabled, the fewer number of working years you need under your belt. Regardless of age, you’ll never need more than ten years of work to qualify for SSDI. Apply for SSDI online at ssa.gov, or call 800-772-1213 to apply by phone or set up an appointment to apply in person.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the federal government’s other assistance program for the disabled, with one stipulation: you must be considered low-income to qualify for it. Because the cost of living varies by state, the income cap for SSI also varies by state. You must also meet the same definition of “disabled” as explained in the SSDI regulations to obtain SSI. Unlike SSDI, you may not apply for SSI online: you must apply in person at your local Social Security office.
Other Low-Income Assistance
If you're 65 or older, you may apply immediately for the federal health insurance program, Medicare. Apply for Medicare online at ssa.gov. If you’re too young to qualify for Medicare, you might qualify for Medicaid, the government’s state-run health insurance program for low-income people of all ages. You may apply for Medicaid at your local Social Security office. Depending on your specific situation, you may qualify for other grants or assistance, including aid as a pregnant or lactating woman, health care for your children, disaster relief or housing assistance. Start at Benefits.gov and fill out the questionnaire to see which other benefits might fit your needs.