Woman assists child with special needs

Benefits for Families with Special Needs

There are federal and state programs committed to providing additional assistance for families with special needs. As a military family, you also can count on the support of the Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP, and Military OneSource special needs specialty consultants.

Learn about the benefits available to you and use them to take good care of your family.

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a federal program that helps to covers the basic needs for people with disabilities who have little or no income. SSI provides cash payments that can be used for food, medical and dental care, home improvements and other personal needs. To qualify, you or your family member must meet certain requirements:

  • Income and other financial resources can’t exceed the limits set for your state. However, as a military family, combat pay, hostile fire pay and imminent danger pay don’t count towards the limits. Check with your local Social Security office to learn more.
  • You must have medical evidence of a severe physical or mental impairment that limits your family member's ability to function for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
  • If the parent is a member of the U.S. military and stationed overseas, children under 18 with special needs can receive benefits while overseas.

Check your family member’s eligibility by completing the SSA Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool and learn everything you need to know before applying.

Title V Programs

In every state, you’ll find services for children under 18 with special heath care needs, which are funded by Title V of the Social Security Act. Eligibility is determined by age, medical criteria and income. Title V programs assist with:

  • Delivery of health services: Organization and delivery of health care services that meet the emotional, social and developmental needs of children.
  • Development of health care plan: Integration of families into all aspects of developing and updating the health care plan.
  • Support for families: Assistance in finding alternatives and choices that meet the needs of your family.
  • Facilitation of professional collaboration: Assisting in the planning, implementing and valuating programs and related policies.

State Maternal and Child Health agencies maintain a toll-free hotline for information about Title V programs and providers. Check here to locate your local Title V program or call the national Title V toll-free number at 800-311-2229.

The Fair Housing Act and other housing programs

If you or someone in your family has special needs, your home may need specific modifications such as a wheelchair ramp or wider doorways to make it accessible for daily living.

The Fair Housing Act protects your family with special needs from discrimination when renting or buying property. Under this law, property owners are required to make reasonable accommodations for disabilities, as well as allowing residents to make their own modifications.

If you live in privatized housing on a military installation, your property managers are required—at no cost to you—to make reasonable accommodations that abide by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Families with special needs have the right to accessible housing. Your installation housing office or your Exceptional Family Member Program coordinator can help you look for affordable housing on and off the base. Visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to find contact information.

Medicaid benefits for individuals with disabilities

Medicaid is a federal program that covers basic health and long-term care services. This benefit is available for military family members with special needs that require medical attention beyond what is available through TRICARE.

Every state has its own Medicaid program with income restrictions and criteria for eligibility. Check this site for your state to see if you qualify and for more information. You can also find more information through the Military OneSource eLearning module on government assistance

Medicare

Medicare could also help provide health care coverage and save you money in the process. Children and adult children with disabilities may be eligible for services. Learn more at Medicare.gov. You can also contact your installation's Exceptional Family Member Program office or a Military OneSource special needs consultant.

Additional government programs

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Women, Infants and Children program are designed to aid children with special needs. More information about these benefits is provided at http://www.USA.gov, an official government website search engine that links to government agencies, programs and services.