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How I Got SSI for My Son

By | Government and Insurance Benefits, Personal Stories | No Comments

As the president of the Orange County Asperger’s Support Group, I often hear of differing concerns from parents. One common issue is how to get their child on Supplemental Security Income (SSI). An SSI benefit, can help your child financially with a monthly stipend. It also can enable them to receive Med-Cal.  For a child with ASD, SSI is part of your your child’s financial safety net. Now I am not an expert, but am happy to share my personal experience.

To Qualify For SSI You Must Have Less than $2000 and Have an Approved Disability

SSI is a means tested benefit. This means that the government requires that the individual have less than $2,000 of financial assets. Note that personal possessions — a car, home, or furniture — are not counted as assets. Some families are able to get on SSI, before their child turns 18. But in those cases, the parents must meet the strict financial guidelines as well as provide proof their child’s disability.

When Josh turned 18, he became an adult and was eligible to apply for SSI. Prior to applying, we had to do a little work. Josh had some money from his Bar Mitzvah and other family gifts. With the help of an attorney, we set up self-funded special needs trust. By moving his money into the trust, Josh was able to meet the financial requirements for SSI.

We Hired an Advocate to Help Over See the Process

We also hired an advisor to help with the process. We worked with Jim Huyck. The first step was to fill out the application for SSI. This was quite an extensive form and required many details from Josh’s medical history. In preparing the application, we also reached out to the original psychologist who diagnosed Josh when he was three years old and to Josh’s current therapist. We had Josh revisit the diagnosing therapist who wrote up a report. We also had his current therapist write a report. It was important that Social Security understand Josh’s disability and his limitations.

There is also financial information required related to Josh’s living expenses. Josh lived at home, and so we needed to pull together all our families living expenses including utilities, mortgage payments, insurance, groceries, etc. Josh needed to pay his fair share. If Josh was unable to pay his fair share, then he would lose a portion of his benefit.

Social Security also needs copies of all the banking accounts. Part of their process is to thoroughly review the funds Josh had available. They even counted savings bonds.

We then submitted the application. It took around nine months. There were occasional letters asking for additional information. At a certain point, Social Security sent a correspondence indicating that Josh would need to meet with one of their doctor’s to be evaluated. This doctor was located in a small clinic in Long Beach. I was nervous, because Josh is fairly high functioning, but the doctor told me that we had nothing to fear.

In the end Josh was approved. I was made his representative payee, which meant I was responsible for managing Josh’s money. The first payment was a lump sum that included back-pay dating back to the date that we applied for the benefit. This amount of money meant that Josh had more than $2000 in the bank. We were given a time frame to spend down the money, before Josh would be penalized for having this much cash on hand.

Josh was on SSI from the time he as 19 till he was 26 years old. I often hear that families get denied. My advice is get professional assistance. Don’t rush. Take your time and do this correctly.

Living with SSI

In my next blog, I will explain living with SSI. There are lots of reporting rules that can impact your child’s income. There are also strategies for how to manage the funds that I am happy to share.

chance theater

Welcome to OCASG’s New Website!

By | Organization News | One Comment

Welcome to the new Orange County Asperger’s Support Group (OCASG) website. This mobile friendly website will hopefully fulfill our promise of providing education, support, and social activities to help improve the lives of families and individuals dealing with high functioning autism and Asperger’s.

  • A cornerstone of this website is our blogspace. Through our blogs we will share our experiences and expertise.
  • We also have created a Facebook group. We encourage you to follow us on Facebook. Note that Facebook will be replacing Yahoo Groups as the portal for discussions.
  • Note that MemberPlanet will continue to be the platform for OCASG coordination. All OCASG members have a login account. MemberPlanet is used to manage emails, financial transaction, activities and more.
  • We will continue to host a Meetup group to help advertise our programming to new people.

As the president of OCASG, I am pleased to share some highlights for this year.

  1. New Social Coordinator: OCASG has hired Marilynn Linnell as our social coordinator. Marilyn is the mother of two and has already planned and executed three social events: the Digimon Movie, Howie’s Game Day, and Bowling/Miniature Golf. We have been thrilled to see the great turn out for these activities, as new friends are fostered and parents share concerns and ideas.
  2. Spectrum Speaker Series: We have a fabulous year of guest speakers scheduled for 2018.Topics range from finding employment, acquiring benefits, developing financial plans and more. LEARN MORE
  3. Toastmasters: The OCASG Toastmasters Gavel Club continues to assist our members who want to improve their public speaking and communications skills. Please join us on the second Saturday of the month. LEARN MORE
  4. Dr. Gantman Support Groups and Workshops: Our partnership with Dr. Gantman continues with Parents and Adult Support Groups. Starting this Saturday, March 31, Dr. Gantman will run a three part workshop on Conquering Emotions. Please join us. 
  5. North County Support Group: North County members continues with monthly support meetings organized by members Kerry Podue and Kevin Curriston at the iHOP in Placentia. Meetings are held on the last Monday of the month.NEXT MEETING
  6. Chance Theater Speak Up: OCASG partnered with the Chance Theater in Anaheim to offer a five week workshop for teens. This workshop used theater games to help build confidence and acting skillsLEARN MORE
  7. Interns at OCASG: We are hosting two interns, David Vu from Cal State Fullerton and Paul Croulet from the Riordan Institute.
  8. New OC Resource Guide: This month we just published the first edition of the OCASG OC Autism Resource Guide. Our intern, David Vu, put together this list of nonprofits, service providers, and agency offering programming for individuals with ASD. DOWNLOAD NOW
  9. 2018 Annual Survey: Help us help you. We are conducting a simple 10 question survey that will help us define programming and advocate for you. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey. TAKE SURVEY. We will be sharing the results in an upcoming blog.

 

If you have not paid your 2018 dues, please do so now. Your $20 tax deductible donation, goes a long way to fund our programming, resources and activities.
JOIN NOW.

Judi Uttal
OCASG President