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Ways to Help Yourself or Your Loved One Access HousingWoman in front of computer

If you need rental assistance, there are a couple of U.S. Dept of HUD funded programs that provide rental assistance to persons with disabilities. These programs include Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, HOME Tenant Based Rent Assistance, and HOPWA. However, these programs are high in demand so a rent voucher is hard to get. If you are currently homeless, you may qualify for rent assistance from the HUD Shelter Plus Care Program or Supportive Housing Program. HUD's "HPRP" Program can help with temporary rent assistance if you are homeless or at risk of homelessness. You can check out our Housing Rental Subsidy Navigator to see which one is best for you. Contact your closest HUD office for more information. To find your closest office, you may go to

If you want to live in an apartment building or home with supportive services, HUD funded programs like Section 811 or 202 have apartments with low rent, and supportive services. They are operated by private owners. There may also be other programs in your state, funded by state or local dollars. But, typically, they target one disability group. The HUD website lists some of them, but not ones funded through other programs. You can start with your state housing finance agency. Your state may also participate in an internet-based housing locator database. To access one many states use, go to . Another internet-based housing locator for general affordable housing is:

If you have a place to live, but think you need a more intensive level of services, like services offered in a nursing home or other institution, your community may have "diversion" programs, that provide these services to your home, so you don't need to move. Or if you are in an institution and want to move to community-based housing, there may be a program available to help you do this. For more information, contact your local "Center for Independent Living".

See our "Caregivers" page for more information.

Ways to Increase Your Income and/or Assets while Receiving Disability Income

If you are on disability assistance paid through SSI or SSDI, you know that there are limits as to how much money you can have as an asset, and how much money you can make working. Some people try to hide this money to keep from losing their disability or their Medicaid. But there are legal ways to do this! If your assets are too high, you may be able to open a "Special Needs Trust", so the money you put in this account cannot be held against you. Or you can participate in a "Pooled Trust" where the fees for administering this account is shared by others that are pooling their money too. You can search on the internet for a Pooled Trust in your state, or your can contact a lawyer to set up a Special Needs Trust.

If you are earning income through a job and don't want to lose your benefits, contact a local provider listed in the Social Security Administration website directory of the "Work Incentives Planning and Assistance" programs that can provide guidance on how to protect your income.

How to Apply for Disability Benefits

The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal Social Security Administration (SSA) programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. Only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are "insured," meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays benefits based on financial need.

When you apply for either program, the Social Security Office will collect medical and other information from you and make a decision about whether or not you meet Social Security's definition of disability.

You can apply online or by going to your local Social Security Office. You do not need a lawyer to apply, but a lawyer may be hired to assist with the application or to help you appeal if you are denied benefits. Generally, their fee will come from the disability payment you receive after being approved.  You may also contact your local Legal Services office for legal assistance that is free or discounted.

Documents Requested for a Disability Application


  • Military Service discharge information (Form DD.214) for all periods of active duty.
  • W-2 Form.(or your IRS 1040 and Schedules C and SE if self-employed) from last year.
  • Social Security Number(s) for your spouse and minor children.
  • Checking or savings account number and bank routing number, if you want Direct Deposit for your benefit checks.


  • Name, address and phone number of someone SSA can contact. who knows about your medical conditions and can help with your claim.
  • Names, addresses, phone numbers, patient ID numbers, and dates of treatment for all doctors, hospitals, and clinics. NOTE: You may want to referto any Medical Records you have.
  • Names of medicines you are taking and who prescribed them. NOTE:You may want to have your medicine bottles available.
  • Names and dates of medical tests you have had and who sent you forthem.
  • Types of jobs and dates you worked for your last 5 jobs.
  • Information about any insurance or workers' compensation claims you filed, such as claim number and name, address and phone number of insurance company.