Benefits for Young People

Key Programs

This section introduces:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Medicaid, and
  • Private health care coverage.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI is the most important income support benefit for young people with disabilities. Even if you have never had a job, you may be able to get SSI. Even if you are under 18 and live with your parents, you may be able to get SSI.

Who it helps

People who have disabilities or are blind may not be able to work or afford to live on their own. If you have a disability, don’t have enough money for your basic needs, don’t have much income, and have limited resources, you may be able to get SSI. (If you are under 18, your parents also must have low income and limited resources for you to qualify for SSI.)

How it helps

If you qualify, SSI gives you money each month to help with your expenses, like food and rent. If you get SSI benefits, you also qualify automatically for Medicaid.

Learn more about SSI eligibility.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

When you work, taxes are taken out of your paycheck. Some of those taxes are automatically paid into the SSDI program. If you work for long enough while paying into SSDI, you will get money each month from SSDI if you have a disability that prevents you from working at some point in the future.

SSDI doesn't cover many young people, because they haven’t worked long enough to get benefits from it. However, if you get a job, your job could help you qualify for SSDI later. And, the more you work, the more SSDI will pay you if you need it!

Learn more in DB101's SSDI article.


Medicaid is the most important public health benefit for young people with disabilities.

Who it helps

Medicaid is for people who cannot afford medical expenses, including people who have disabilities, are young, or are pregnant. Generally, to get it, you or your family must have low income. If you get SSI benefits, you automatically qualify for Medicaid.

How it helps

If you qualify, Medicaid pays for your medical expenses, including visits to the doctor, hospital stays, prescription drugs, medical equipment, and other medical services. Also, you may be able to get services from a Medicaid Waiver program that can help you live in your own home instead of in a nursing home or other group setting.

Learn more about Medicaid eligibility.

Private Health Coverage

Private health insurance is the most common way people get health coverage.

Who it helps

People get private health coverage in different ways. Some get it through their jobs, others get it from their parents’ employers, and some sign up for it on their own at kynect. If you get an individual health plan, the government may help pay your monthly premium through tax subsidies. Note: There is no income limit for getting subsidies that help pay individual coverage premiums. (Before 2021, the limit was 400% of FPG.) To get subsidies, you still must meet other eligibility rules and the premium amount you pay depends on your income and your plan.

How it helps

Private health coverage pays for some of your medical costs when you see doctors, vist other health care providers, do lab tests, or get prescription medicines at a pharmacy. Depending on your private health plan, your coverage may pay for almost all of your medical expenses or for just a part of those expenses.

Learn more about private health coverage.

Estimate how your benefits could change

When you get a job, go to school, or get older, your eligibility and benefit amounts may change. DB101 includes Estimators that can help you predict how your benefits might change. For young people, the School and Work Estimator is especially helpful. After reading about benefits, try it out!

If you have questions, contact experts who can help you understand the rules.

Learn more