This handout helps you to learn more about disability benefits – what they are, who can get them, and how you might apply for them. These benefits could help you pay your medical bills.
What is a Disability?
To be found disabled:
- You are not able to work enough to support yourself because of your health problems. AND
- Your health condition has lasted 12 months, is expected to last at least 12 months or may result in your death. There is no government program for short-term disability.
Social Security Disability Benefits --- There are two types: SSDI and SSI.
[Note: You must be a citizen or permanent resident of the USA for at least 5 years to apply.]
- SSDI (Social Security Disability Income) is a monthly income that you could receive if Social Security says you have worked enough, and the Disability Bureau agrees that you are too ill to work for at least 12 months. It includes Medicare after you are eligible to receive SSDI checks for 2 years.
- SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is also a monthly income you can receive if you have low or no income, and the Disability Determination Bureau agrees that you are too ill to work for at least 12 months. Besides the home you live in and one vehicle, you can’t have more than $2,000 in assets for a single person or $3,000 for a couple. This includes money in the bank, stocks or retirement accounts, and any extra items owned such as a motor home, boat, land you don’t live on, other vehicles, and so forth.
- In Wisconsin, SSI includes Medicaid (also known as Medical Assistance or MA) which may cover health costs back 3 full months from the date you applied.
- Illinois does not have Medicaid with their SSI program. Instead, you would need to apply for Medicaid through your county (see below).
How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits
You may apply on your own. If you have questions, ask a social worker or case manager for help.
1. Be sure to have the correct Social Security number and birth date. Call toll-free 1–800–772–1213. For Dane and Iowa Counties, call (608) 270–1141. Listen to the message and press the correct numbers on your phone to get to a person. Be patient. You are often put “on hold”.
2. Ask to schedule an interview by phone or at the Social Security office. SSA will ask questions to figure out if you are able to apply for SSDI, SSI, both, or neither.
3. Sign the Authorization to Disclose Information forms. Return them to SSA in the envelope that was sent to you in the packet.
4. Again, please be patient. Disability decisions can take over 6 months. In some cases, the type and seriousness of the health condition results in a quicker response.
5. You can also start the application process on-line at www.ssa.gov and click on Apply for Disability Benefits. Complete the Adult Disability Report and mail the requested paperwork. You will be printing documents they request you to complete (cover page, release of information). you must also have a telephone or office interview. Please see the attached starter packet for more information. Please talk with the social worker about tips for applying on-line.
County Medicaid Disability Benefits
Medicaid will pay for medical bills for hospital stays, clinic visits, medications, tests, therapies, and other medical care.
- In Wisconsin, if you make too much money for SSI, but you still have less than $2,000 for a single person or $3,000 for a couple in assets, the county may provide Medicaid. If you have certain types of serious health conditions, you will want to apply for Medicaid and SSI as this kind of disability decision can be made more quickly.
- In Illinois, you may be able to get Medicaid if you are too ill to work enough to support yourself, it looks like your illness is expected to last over one year or result in your death, and you don’t have more than $2,000 for a single person or $3,000 for a couple in assets.
How to Apply for Medicaid
1. Call your County Human Services Department or Job Center to get forms sent to you and to find out about other assistance programs. Hospital and Clinic Social Workers also have these forms.
2. Social Workers can help you complete the forms in the hospital or clinic, and then send them to your County office. If you are uninsured and have questions, you can also call the UW Hospital Government Programs Social Workers at (608) 265-0433 for A-H last names and at (608) 263-5889 for I-Z last names.
3. If forms are taken home to finish, send or take them in to your County Human Services Department or Job Center.
4. You can also apply on-line at www.access.wi.gov . Please feel free to discuss further with the social worker.
The Spanish version of this HFFY is #6367.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 02/28/2013
Copyright © 02/28/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6360
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