This handout helps you to learn more
about disability benefits – what they are,
who can get them, and how you might
apply for them. These benefits could help
you pay your medical bills.
What is a Disability?
To be found disabled:
ξ You are not able to work enough to
support yourself because of your
ξ Your health condition has lasted 12
months, is expected to last at least
12 months, or may result in your
death. There is no government
program for short-term disability.
Social Security Disability Benefits
There are two types: SSDI and SSI.
[Note: You must be a citizen or
permanent resident of the USA for at least
5 years to apply.]
ξ SSDI (Social Security Disability
Income) is a monthly income that
you could receive if Social Security
says you have worked enough, and
the Disability Bureau agrees that
you are too ill to work for at least
12 months. It includes Medicare
after you are eligible to receive
SSDI checks for 2 years.
ξ SSI (Supplement Security Income)
is also a monthly income you can
receive if you have low or no
income, and the Disability
Determination Bureau agrees that
you are too ill to work for at least
12 months. Besides the home you
live in and one vehicle, you can’t
have more than $2,000 in assets for
a single person or $3,000 for a
couple. This includes money in the
bank, stocks or retirement accounts,
and any extra items owned such as
a motor home, boat, land you don’t
live on, other vehicles, and so forth.
o In Wisconsin, SSI includes
Medicaid (also known as
Medical Assistance or MA)
which may cover health
costs back 3 full months
from the date you applied.
o Illinois does not have
Medicaid with their SSI
program. Instead, you would
need to apply for Medicaid
through your county (see
How to Apply for Social Security
You may apply on your own. If you have
questions, ask a social worker or case
manager for help.
ξ Be sure to have the correct Social
Security number and birth date.
Call toll-free 1–800–772–1213.
Listen to the message and press the
correct numbers on your phone to
get to a person. You are often put
ξ Ask to schedule an interview by
phone or at the Social Security
office. SSA will ask questions to
figure out if you are able to apply
for SSDI, SSI, both, or neither.
ξ Sign the Authorization to Disclose
Information forms. Return them to
SSA in the envelope that was sent
to you in the packet.
ξ Disability decisions can take over 6
months. In some cases, the type
and seriousness of the health
condition results in a faster
ξ You can also start the application
process on-line at www.ssa.gov and
click on Apply for Disability
Benefits. Complete the Adult
Disability Report and mail the
requested paperwork. You will be
printing documents they request
you to complete (cover page,
release of information). You must
also have a telephone or office
interview. Please see the attached
starter packet for more information.
Please talk with the social worker
about tips for applying on-line.
County Medicaid Disability Benefits
Medicaid will pay for medical bills for
hospital stays, clinic visits, medications,
tests, therapies, and other medical care.
ξ In Wisconsin, if you make too
much money for SSI, but you still
have less than $2,000 for a single
person or $3,000 for a couple in
assets, the county may provide
Medicaid. If you have certain types
of serious health conditions, you
will want to apply for Medicaid
and SSI as this kind of disability
decision can be made more quickly.
ξ In Illinois, you may be able to get
Medicaid if you are too ill to work
enough to support yourself, it looks
like your illness is expected to last
over one year or result in your
death, and you don’t have more
than $2,000 for a single person or
$3,000 for a couple in assets.
How to Apply for Medicaid
ξ Call your County Human Services
Department or Job Center to get
forms sent to you and to find out
about other assistance programs.
Hospital and Clinic Social Workers
also have these forms.
ξ Social Workers can help you
complete the forms in the hospital
or clinic, and then send them to
your County office. If you are
uninsured and have questions, you
can also call the UW Hospital
Government Programs Social
Workers at (608) 265-0433 for A-H
last names and at (608) 263-5889
for I-Z last names.
ξ If forms are taken home to finish,
send or take them in to your
County Human Services
Department or Job Center.
ξ You can also apply on-line at
www.access.wi.gov. Please feel
free to discuss further with the
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you have
any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This is not
medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each person’s health
needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using this information. If
you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 9/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All
rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6360.