There are federal and state programs committed to providing additional assistance for families with special needs. In addition to the support of the Exceptional Family Member Program and Military OneSource special needs consultants, your family may receive additional help from a range of benefits.
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income is a federal program that helps to cover the basic needs for individuals 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.
Social Security Disability Insurance
Also from the Social Security Administration, Social Security Disability Insurance provides supplemental income to people whose disability prevents them from obtaining employment or staying employed. For example, SSDI is available to:
- Disabled adult children based on their parents’ work, if the child has a disability that was identified or diagnosed before age 22.
- People who can’t work because of a medical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death.
- Military families with a family member with special needs or a family member with a military-connected disability and others.
SSDI benefits can be paid on a temporary or permanent basis, depending on the disability. You can apply for SSDI benefits through the SSA Disability Benefits online portal or by contacting your installation Exceptional Family Member Program family support office.
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 evaluating 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.
TRICARE basic benefits
TRICARE offers several services under the basic TRICARE benefit for beneficiaries with special needs:
TRICARE Extended Care Health Option
TRICARE’s Extended Care Health Option provides financial assistance to beneficiaries with special needs for an integrated set of services and supplies. To use the ECHO program, qualified beneficiaries must:
- Be enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program through the sponsor’s branch of service.
- Register with case managers in each TRICARE region.
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. Go-to resources include:
- The Fair Housing Act protects your family from discrimination when renting or buying property. Under this law, property owners are required to make reasonable accommodations for disabilities and allow 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 EFMP family support staff 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 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 EFMP family support provider or a Military OneSource special needs consultant.
Additional government programs
The 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 USA.gov, an official government website search engine that links to government agencies, programs and services.
Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or use live chat to schedule an appointment with a special needs consultant. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options. Appointments are available seven days a week.