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What benefits are available for caretakers?

Each day on our forum there are questions from mothers or fathers or sons and daughters who are taking time off from work to care for a loved one. This leads to a common question, “Does the SSA provide any type of disability benefits for caretakers of the disabled?”

Benefits available to caretakers of the disabled

The most common way for a caretaker to get disability benefits would be if their spouse was getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the other spouse had a child under the age of 16 who is “in their care” or a child of any age who has been determined disabled (assuming they are performing personal services for the child).

“In your care” does not mean the child has to always been in your physical custody, but the SSA will expect that you are “exercising parental control and responsibility over the upbringing of the child.” If the child in your care is not disabled they will lose their auxiliary benefits when they reach 18 years of age. If you were receiving spousal benefits your benefits will be terminated when the child becomes 16 years of age, unless the child is disabled. If the child is disabled prior to the age of 22, they also can continue to receive SSDI auxiliary benefits.

The benefits described above are only offered through the SSDI program; Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does not provide any type of auxiliary benefits to spouses or children.

My spouse is not disabled or receiving SSDI benefits, what are my options?

If you are not married and you are not eligible for any type of spousal support benefits than the other option, if your child is disabled, is for your child to get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Unfortunately, SSI benefits will provide limited funds. If you are relying solely on SSI benefits to support you and your child it will be very difficult to make ends meet. The good news is that most SSI recipients will also get Medicaid. For a disabled child this benefit may be more important that the actual SSI payment.

There may be other benefits, in addition to Medicaid, that you can receive including food stamps and housing assistance through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD offers a number of programs that assist low income individuals with rent, privately owned subsidized housing, and public housing through affordable apartments for low-income families.

You may also be able to contact local charities and churches to see what other programs are available for the handicapped in your area. Our city has a resale shop and food pantry for the low income and needy in our community, and our church provides a variety of services to the low income.

Family members and friends may also be able to provide additional assistance with care taking so mothers and fathers of the disabled are able to maintain employment and provide the basic necessities for their families.

So what’s the bottom line for caretakers?

Although the SSA does not provide a lot of specific help to the caretakers of the disabled, they are attempting to help the disabled themselves through the SSDI and the SSI programs. If you are the caretaker of someone who already receives SSDI or SSI although you may not qualify for disability benefits from the SSA, you may abe able to get additional help from other governmental programs.