If you have a disability that affects your daily life, you may qualify for government or private funding programs. Whether you want to make your home more accessible, find decently priced health insurance, or start a business, there are financial resources designed for you.
Note: though people with disabilities earn across the income spectrum, some of the resources on this list are reserved for people with low incomes (or people whose disabilities make it tough to find employment). If you earn above a certain threshold, some suggestions here won’t apply to you. Others are available to all people with disabilities, regardless of income.
Unless noted otherwise, the resources in this article are specific to people who live in the United States.
Public housing programs
Depending on availability where you live, you can get on the list for low-cost public rental housing through the federal office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). You apply at the local level through your state agency.
Note that there are income limits based on the median income in your area, and typically a long waiting list.
Rental assistance for private housing
It’s also possible — and maybe less of a wait — to qualify for rental assistance on private housing of your choice. This map directs you to available housing and other financial help in your city and state.
Vouchers for renting or buying
HUD’s housing choice voucher program, otherwise known as Section 8, includes people with disabilities in its voucher-eligible pool. Vouchers give you financial help to pay all or part of the rent.
You can pick the home or apartment where you want to live, unlike with public housing assistance. But you’re responsible for finding the place and filling out the application.
The income requirements are similar to those for public housing. If you earn less than 50% of the median income for your area or county, you’re eligible.
Non-elderly disabled (NED) voucher program
This voucher program is designed for people with disabilities who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for housing assistance.
There are a few different kinds of NED vouchers. Some help you pay for rentals on the private market. Others set aside units in certain Section 8 housing developments for applicants with disabilities.
Buying a home
For people ready to buy, housing choice vouchers can help pay the mortgage and other miscellaneous homeownership costs. Note that this voucher program is for first-time homeowners, and not every public housing agency offers it.
Find your public housing agency here to learn their voucher specifics.
Read more: Home affordability calculator
Government loans for rural homeowners
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has grants and loans for rural homeowners who want to retrofit or modify a home to make it more accessible. Use their map to check if your neighborhood qualifies as “rural.”
Grants are reserved for elderly homeowners, but loans up to $40,000 are open to all qualified applicants (at 1% interest, which you really can’t beat).
Home repair for veterans
If your disability is connected to your time in the military, you may qualify for a government grant to buy or repair your home.
These grants are substantial — over $100,000 for fiscal year 2022.
Private home repair aid
Rebuilding Together is a volunteer organization that completes home upgrades and repairs at no cost to homeowners with disabilities.
The National Directory of Home Modification and Repair Resources has links to several funding opportunities, including local loans and grants.
To search state-by-state for home repair grant assistance, try the Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America’s Catalyst Project directory.
Grants, scholarships, and loans
There are diverse financial resources for students with disabilities at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels. Many are geared towards certain disabilities, but some are more general.
- The University of Washington maintains a pretty comprehensive list of disability-related financial aid programs.
- Scholarships.com keeps a long list of disability scholarships.
- Disabled World has its own library of scholarships and other financial aid, including resources based outside the U.S.
- The National Center for College Students With Disabilities Clearinghouse has an infrequently updated list of scholarships, but the site itself is a good resource.
- Filling out the FAFSA and seeing what federal funding you can get is always a good first step. Students with intellectual disabilities may qualify for grants, including the Pell Grant.
Federal student loan discharge
Student loan borrowers with total and permanent disabilities can apply to have their federal loans partially or fully discharged. You’ll need some documentation to confirm your disability. (Note that this program only applies to certain federal loans).
Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts (meaning you don’t pay taxes on income you earn from them).
Designed to meet disability-related expenses, ABLE accounts are less expensive alternatives to most trust funds. You can contribute up to $16,000 a year.
If your disability onset occurred before you turned 26, you may be eligible to open an ABLE account. And if you’re taking advantage of income-contingent programs like housing vouchers or food stamps, ABLE account savings won’t affect your eligibility.
You may already know about Medicaid, but in case you don’t, this low-cost (sometimes free) government-funded healthcare coverage is available to people with disabilities and low incomes. Each state has slightly different Medicaid requirements.
Medicare, while also free or low-cost, isn’t attached to income. Younger people with disabilities qualify for Medicare, and they can work while receiving Medicare.
If you’re eligible, you can have both Medicare and Medicaid (depending on your health care needs, the extra coverage may be worthwhile).
Paying for prescriptions
Other financial resources for medication access include:
- The National Organization for Rare Disorders.
- RxAssist Patient Assistance (low-income).
- Medicine Assistance Tool (for looking up a specific medication).
- Prescription drug discount cards.
Social Security Disability Insurance
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) has pretty strict requirements. You may qualify if your disability makes you unable to work, if it’s designated as a total (not partial or temporary) disability, and if you’ve previously worked long enough to pay Social Security taxes.
Its benefits include monthly financial assistance, at a higher amount than its sister program Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI monthly benefits are easier to qualify for than SSDI. You don’t need to have paid into Social Security, but your income can’t be above a certain amount.
You can have a part-time or full-time job and stay on SSI through their “work incentives” program. The goal is generally to transition participants off SSI once they’ve saved enough cash, but each case is different.
If you’re entrepreneurially-minded, the Small Business Administration has a list of resources — including grants, loans, and professional networks — designed for business owners with disabilities.
People with blindness or significant disabilities can browse the job boards and make connections at AbilityOne.
For people on SSI or SSDI benefits, the Ticket to Work program gives referrals, training, and other employment assistance.
If you need some help paying bills, relocating, or meeting a savings goal, there’s likely to be a disability-related program that matches your needs.
And if you’re financially independent, it’s still worthwhile to check out your aid options — public and private resources can keep more money in your pocket for the future.
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