Benefits for Young People

Other Programs

You may qualify for many other benefits programs. For example, if you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and are over 18, you can probably get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and may be able to get income support from K-TAP.

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).

Asset-building programs, including ABLE accounts, Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), can help you save up money without losing benefits you get that have income and resource limits.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP helps you pay for food by giving you a plastic card, called an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, that looks and works like a debit card. Kentucky puts money on the EBT card each month and you use it to buy food. To qualify for SNAP benefits, you must have low income and limited resources.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services provides an overview of SNAP.


K-TAP gives money to families with low income and low resources who don't have enough to pay for basic needs like food, clothing, and rent. For K-TAP, a family is one or two parents living with their child or children under 18. The age limit is 19 for children who are in school full time. A family can include biological kids, step-kids, adopted kids, and children of relatives.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services answers Frequently Asked Questions about K-TAP.

Apply for SNAP, K-TAP, or other state programs
You can apply for SNAP (formerly Food Stamps), K-TAP, or other programs:

If you apply online, the information will be sent to DCBS for processing. However, an interview may be needed to get more information to determine your eligibility, and you typically need to wait two weeks before calling to check on the status of your application.

Note: A quick online pre-screening process can help you see if you might qualify for Medicaid, Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program (KCHIP), SNAP, or K-TAP.

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, another 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).

Learn more about Child's Benefits or talk to a Benefits Planner.

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

If you have a disability, you may qualify to get money each month through the Childhood Disability Benefits program. CDB is based on your parent’s work record.

To qualify, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Have had a disability before you turned 22 that met Social Security's adult definition of disability
  • Not be married (with some exceptions), 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 24-month waiting period.

Learn more about CDB.

Asset-Building Programs

Instead of sending you money or paying for your health expenses, asset-building programs help you save up your own money so that you can afford to pay for future 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 $18,000 in 2024.
  • 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.
  • A person can only have one ABLE account.

Learn more about ABLE accounts.

Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)

An IDA helps people save money for a specific goal, such as buying 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.
IDAs and SSI

If you get SSI benefits, only enroll in an IDA that is federally funded through Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program (K-TAP) or the Assets for Independence Act (AFIA). 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 stopped.

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.

Read DB101’s Building Your Assets and Wealth article to learn more about IDAs.

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 to owe income taxes may qualify for this tax credit.

To qualify, you must have income from employment, self-employment, or employer-paid disability benefits and you must file your taxes! The amount of your EITC depends on your family size and income and can range from $2 to $7,830. Note: If your income is too high, you will not qualify for the tax credit.

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. Lots of people don’t get the EITC because they don’t know they could.

If you need help filing your taxes, get in touch with a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) center. With VITA, certified volunteers help prepare your taxes and make sure you get any credits you qualify for. Most sites also offer free electronic filing (e-filing). Find a local VITA center or call 1-800-906-9887.

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

Learn more