Public Benefits

Evan and Eric share their stories about the important role public benefits play in their lives.

Public benefits are often a key part of a financial plan for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Public benefits are services, benefits, or financial payments from the government for people who are eligible to help pay for food, health care, housing, and other basic living needs. It is important to learn about and apply for all public benefits that a person with IDD may be eligible for.

Plain Language

For information on public benefits in plain language, click here:
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What public benefit programs are available and how do I know I’m eligible?

Public benefit programs are offered in various communities by local, state and federal governments. Most public benefits are means-tested programs. This means the programs only serve people who have low incomes and few resources.

Commonly available programs include:

Once I apply, will I always keep my benefits?

Public benefits programs only give benefits to people that are eligible to receive them. There are rules that need to be followed to keep benefits. Each program has different rules about who can receive money and things they can or cannot do. For example, some programs can only be given to people with very low incomes or who live in certain states or areas. Many programs review eligibility from time to time and may require people to report changes that could affect their eligibility.

If you get public benefits, it is important to learn about the rules of the program to make sure you do not lose your benefits. If you need help understanding the rules of your benefit program or you were denied benefits, contact your local legal aid group.

How long does it take to receive public benefits?

There are different waiting periods between the time when you apply for benefits and receive benefits. Some may have a few weeks to wait and others may take years.

Waiting lists for Medicaid HCBS are common and depend on your state of residence.

Check with your state IDD agency or a chapter of The Arc to get information on waiting lists and wait times for benefits in your state.