Can My Family Member with Disability Afford Independent Living?

 July 10, 2015
Posted by M&LAdmin4

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

There is no question about it: independent living is expensive. It is no surprise that when many families begin thinking about helping their family member with disability achieve independent living, their first question is, “can we afford this?” quickly followed by, “how?”

Well, as financial planning experts, we have years of experience with helping families plan for financial milestones of two generations: we encourage families to plan for the typical milestones, i.e. college, retirement, etc., as well as for the present and future needs of the individual with disability. As the future needs of any individual includes housing/independent living, we feel that we are exceptionally well equipped to answer the above questions.

Please join us as we discuss two ways that an individual with a disability can finance independent living – government benefits and employment.

Government Benefits

For many individuals with disabilities, government benefit payments are essential for financial survival. These benefits can help individuals with disabilities finance the daily necessities of life, such as food, transportation, recreation, etc. And, with proper management, these benefits can also play an integral role in the financing structure for future housing and independent living goals.

Without getting too bogged down in detail (there are pages and pages of information on these benefits, including in our own blog archive), there are two main benefit programs in the United States: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both of these programs provide cash benefits for individuals with a disability, however they each have their own distinct & stringent set of eligibility requirements.

One of the main differences is this: SSDI is funded through payroll taxes, and SSI is a funded through general fund taxes. As such, SSDI eligibility comes down to “time worked” eligibility requirements, i.e. an individual must have a certain number of years worked before the SSDI benefits can be accessed (among other requirements).  SSI is needs based, meaning that eligibility requirements are more closely related to income and accessible resources.

Trust us when we say that the above description is a very, very brief summary of these complicated benefits and eligibility requirements; for more information on SSDI, please click here to read our blog on the topic. You can access SSI information here.

We would like to note that feel that these benefit programs are an important part of any special needs financial plan. We stress to all of our clients that maintaining eligibility for these benefits is of the utmost importance – to learn more about how to maintain eligibility, please click here to read a blog we published on the topic.

If you have yet to receive these benefits, and would like to start the process, please let us know! It is a complicated process, and many applications are denied due to a lack of documentation. M&L founder/owner Maedi Tanham Carney CFP®, CWIC has an excellent track record with help families apply for these benefits (100% success rate since 2013) and she is more than happy to help you with the process.


Another important tool that individuals with disability can use to help finance independent living is employment. Here at M&L, we feel that employment is incredibly beneficial for individuals with disability, not only as a source of income and a way to achieve self-sufficiency, but also as a way to integrate into the community. As well, employment has been proven to be psychologically beneficial.

Now, we completely understand that many families may shy away from employment, for fear of losing government benefits. As we wrote above, we understand how important these benefits are and encourage families to take all steps to protect them. Having said that, we know that employment doesn’t automatically mean loss of benefits. In fact, Maedi (in addition to being a whiz with applying for government benefits) is also a Certified Work Incentive Coordinator.

In a nutshell, this means that Carney has been trained and can work in-depth with individuals who are working (or want to go to work), and have questions regarding their benefits and insurance eligibility. Carney uses her CWIC training and her knowledge of these benefits to provide work-incentive planning and assistance directly to individuals with disabilities.  She can perform outreach efforts to individuals with disabilities (and their families) who are potentially eligible to participate in Federal or State work incentives programs. CWICs also provide general information on the adequacy of health benefits coverage that may be offered by an employer of an individual with a disability, the extent to which other health benefits coverage may be available to that beneficiary in coordination with Medicare and/or Medicaid, and the availability of protection and advocacy services for beneficiaries with disabilities. She can also advise you as to how to access such services.

If you would like to learn more about how employment can help finance independent living, or just about employment for individuals with disabilities in general, please contact us.

Thanks for visiting!                                      

Thank you all for taking the time to visit our website today! If you have a family member with disability that is considering living independently, we hope that we provided you with some valuable information about how to finance that goal. If you are interested in learning more about how ILO can help you help your family member with disability achieve independent living, please contact us! To read more about the services that we offer, please click here to access our Services webpage.

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