Dealing with a disability is difficult under any circumstances; this stress is only exacerbated when financial concerns, family, and quality of life are affected. In this article, we’ve compiled a broad list of federal and state disability resources and educational services for individuals in need of disability help, as well as information you can access to learn what you need to do to find help and assistance with your claim.
It’s our hope that you use this article as a companion piece for disability information and assistance programs to build a better understanding of your support options. There are additionally many disability resources in Florida available for residents. Here are some disability resources below:
Federal Assistance: Social Security Benefits for Disability
Individuals affected by disability, as well as their families, may be eligible for ongoing federal benefit programs designed to help families sustain a regular income despite medical impairment. The most common of these nationally offered disability assistance programs are the Social Security Administration’s SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) program and SSI (Supplementary Security Income) program.
These programs grant monthly benefit payments to the disabled, blind, or elderly who are unable to work or earn suitable wages without assistance. You may be eligible to receive monthly support for yourself and your family through both programs in the same month. If you are accepted for SSDI, you will receive medical care and monthly cash payment benefits which are calculated based on your income, number of years you have worked, age, and expected date of retirement. SSDI reportedly covers about 40% of your pre-retirement income.
SSI also provides financial help for disabled people, such as monthly cash flow to help disabled, aged, and blind approved applicants meet basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing.
Due to varying program requirements (work history, medical reporting, financial need, etc.), reaching out to a trained disability consultant who understands the complexities of these programs can be crucial to your application’s approval. Don’t let poor or incomplete filing cost you your needed federal benefits.
State Assistance Programs in Florida
For individuals and families struggling with disability, there are often statewide programs designed to provide living assistance and financial help for disabled people based on your needs. While these programs and their exact eligibility requirements vary between each state, they generally serve the same purpose: helping the disabled and their families maintain an economic standard, and in turn, a suitable quality of life.
Some of the most prevalent disability resources in Florida are:
Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) program
The Temporary Cash Assistance program, organized by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), is intended to help families with children under age 18 (or 19, if currently enrolled in secondary school), meet “technical, income and asset requirements” of standard living. It enables families to support themselves despite economic hardship (such as strain induced by lost wages, due to a disability). All members of a family unit (parents and children) must apply for the TCA program.
Some of the eligibility requirements for TCA are listed as follows:
- To receive financial support through TCA, a family’s gross income must be lower than 185% the Federal poverty level; additionally, countable income cannot exceed payment standard per family size.
- Countable assets must be equal or less than $2,000 per family; this excludes a vehicle or vehicle(s) with total value below $8,500.
- Cash assistance through TCA is limited to 48 months throughout an adult’s lifetime; there is no time limit for child cases.
- Applicants must live in the state of Florida, and provide a Social Security Number or proof of application for assistance.
For a complete list of TCA eligibility requirements, access the DCF’s Fact Sheet here.
Optional State Supplementation (OSS) program
The DCF’S Optional State Supplementation program provides monthly financial help for disabled people and the elderly currently living in non-institutional living facilities, mental health facilities, assisted living facilities and care homes. The eligibility requirements for OSS are much simpler than those for various other programs; to receive monthly OSS payments, disabled or elderly individuals must require ongoing assistance with daily activities. The program is support for disability to ensure individuals can pay for the care they receive.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program
Florida’s TANF program is a federally-funded grant program for families in need, whether due to disability, illness or otherwise. While this program typically requires ongoing work participation to receive benefits, recipients currently enrolled in the SSI program are not included in the TANF benefit calculation, and are excluded from work requirements. The amount of assistance you receive depends on circumstances and family size, changing on a case-by-case basis. The TANF Program was formerly known as Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC).
The TANF program is also a major funding source for various statewide assistance services, including:
- Child abuse prevention
- Child care
- Mental health counseling
Other Florida Disability Assistance Programs
There are numerous other programs and disability resources in Florida intended to help people with low incomes and disabilities.
Florida Food Assistance Program
Formally known as the Florida Food Stamp Program, this assistance program provides education on food preparation, food benefits, and helps provide access to healthy diets for people who may have a difficult time accessing nutritional food due to need. Eligibility requirements include being a Florida resident and an annual household income that is below the requirements.
Florida Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
This Florida program offers grants to nonprofits and local governments to assist eligible Florida families in meeting the costs of home heating and cooling. These grants can help pay off home energy expenses corresponding to three categories: home energy assistance, crisis assistance, and supply shortage/weather related energy crisis assistance. Each category has its own eligibility requirements. A family member who is participating in other programs such as SSI, SNAP, or TANF or veterans benefits may be automatically eligible.
Florida Weatherization Assistance Program
Allocated grants are given to community action agencies, nonprofits, Native American tribes, and local governments to fund energy saving repairs for eligible families. An average of $2,600 may be spent on each home to provide repairs to insulation, water heater wraps, weather stripping, and reduction of air infiltration. To qualify, families or persons must be Florida residents and have an income that is below the required amounts. Households who are receiving SSI and other benefits are automatically eligible.
Disability Resources and Educational Services
Florida is home to specifically designed services, resources, and programs for people with disabilities for people with disabilities. These are some of those being offered.
Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services
This bureau coordinates programs for students with disabilities and administers student services and efforts throughout Florida to help strengthen educational services for students with disabilities. This includes resources for both teachers and parents to assist students with accommodations.
Division of Blind Services
This resource offers blind and visually impaired residents of Florida tools, support and opportunities to lead independent and productive lives.
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
A federal-state program, this resource helps people with disabilities, whether mental or physical, find and maintain employment.
Information Resources for Disability
As one of Florida’s leading disability resources, we strive every day to help the disabled and their families sustain a healthy standard of living, whether it’s by gathering medical evidence for disability or providing information to help the disabled understand his/her options.
The following is a list of online disability resources, provided both by Disability Experts of Florida and by other state/national organizations; we hope you can use it to gain an understanding of various assistance options as well as disability resources and educational services based on your condition:
- How to Apply for SSDI and SSI Benefits in Florida
- Social Security Disability Benefits
- What You Need to Know When You Get Social Security Disability Benefits
- Benefits for Children
- Guide to Qualifying for Disability
- Disability Benefits for Wounded Warriors
- How Workers’ Compensation and Other Disability Payments May Affect Your Benefits
- How Living Arrangements Can Affect Your Supplementary Security Income
- USA.gov Resource List for People with Disabilities
If you have any additional questions on disability assistance through various state/federal programs, or would like advice on how to apply for these disability resources and services, don’t hesitate to contact a trained disability professional in your state today.