Search Site
Disability Assistance Programs for All Ages Part 1

Disability Assistance Programs for All Ages Part 1

An elder law attorney serves as an excellent guide for clients over 65 who may need government disability assistance for their care.  However, there are others who are also in need of the expertise elder law attorneys bring to the table.  Over 37 million Americans are classified as disabled; about 12% of the total population. Of course, those in assisted and nursing care are among this number, but more than 50% of disabled Americans are in their working years from 18-64 years old.

Very few are prepared for the financial impact of disability, just as many find themselves unprepared to finance long term care for the elderly.  This is why we have disability assistance programs and professionals to help individuals and their families determine what to apply for and how.

All Federal and state assistance programs, such as food assistance, cash assistance and Medicaid benefits, are need-based with eligibility standards. These standards are not necessarily fixed, and generally we see changes during January and April each year.

Individuals may be eligible for disability assistance based on their need, however the availability of any program is based on funding. Most have a waiting list.


ACHA – Agency for Health Care Administration that manages Medicaid services in the State.

CARES – Comprehensive Assessment and Review for Long Term Care Services that provides an assessment of care needs to meet eligibility.

DCF – The Department of Children and Families that determines eligibility for Medicaid services.

ACCESS – The Portal to apply for benefits, check case status of pending benefits, or view current benefits.


SSI – Supplemental Security Income that provides cash assistance and Medicaid to the aged, blind, and disabled who meet eligibility.

Medicare – A federal health insurance program that provides hospital insurance (part A), Medical insurance (Part B) and prescription drug plans (Part D). Comes with regular Social Security or with Social Security Disability (after 24 months).

Medicaid – A federal program funded by both federal and state dollars, states have some flexibility in administrating the program so eligibility requirements and the programs and services vary from State to State.

General Eligibility Rules for all Medicaid programs:

  • 65 or blind, or disabled
  • US Citizen or qualified non-citizen
  • Florida resident
  • Social Security number
  • Must file for any benefits for which they may be eligible (pensions, retirement benefits, Veterans Benefits)
  • Must file for any other health insurance available
  • Provide proof of identity

Income and Assets Standards

Assets that count:

  • Real property other than homestead (unless jointly held, income producing or up for sale)
  • Bank accounts, CDs, money market funds, stocks, bonds, trusts, life insurance cash value

Assets that don’t count:

  • Homestead – must have “intent to return”
  • One vehicle if less than 7 years old, any others if over 7 years
  • Burial funds up to $2500
  • Irrevocable burial contracts
  • Term life insurance or any policy or policies where total face value does not exceed $2500

Income that counts:

  • Social Security, pensions, interest, dividends, income from rental property, IRA distributions, annuity payments, alimony and support payments.
  • Medicaid looks at gross income before deductions

Income that does not count:

VA aid and attendance payments

Websites that you may want to visit to learn more:

Florida Resources

Federal Resources

This article cannot substitute for the professional advice of an elder law attorney, but it is useful to understand the terms and programs. You can glance over the basic criteria for eligibility and income standards before you meet with a professional or attempt to apply to assistance.

Awards & Achievements
Reviews & Ratings
  • lawyers

    I had another lawyer help me with estate planning, and only be semi-knowledgeable about these things I trusted his advice. Then he had some troubles which made me question his advice. I asked Teresa if she could review my documents and advise if ever...

    Read more


  • lawyers

    Working with Teresa and her staff has been a very positive experience. At every turn she assisted us in making a very difficult situation more manageable. Her firm practices good communications, professional services, and is always willing to help ...

    Read more


  • lawyers

    Teresa has provided my husband and me total peace of mind with her intuitive understanding of our estate planning needs.

    Read more


  • google

    I have been lucky enough to work with Teresa and her team with several clients and find her service and advise to be consistently of the highest of standards. She is a pleasure to deal with and nothing is ever too much trouble for her. I cannot recom...

    Read more

    rob galkoff

  • google

    Teresa is easy to talk to and is understanding of the situation brought to her. I would highly recommend her for your legal representative.

    Read more

    Theresa Wheeler

See all reviews
Contact us

Quick Contact Form