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Government Benefits


Government Benefit Programs are an integral part of the service system for people with disabilities. Although they can be complicated, it is important to understand how to access and utilize these benefits.

Social Security

Some Individuals may be eligible for Social Security before the age of 18. Many people with developmental disabilities, however, do not qualify until they are 18 years old. Income and assets are also a factor in eligibility for these benefits. It is not uncommon for persons with developmental disabilities to report being denied social security benefits. If denied initially, you are encouraged to appeal. For further information on Social Security or to find the nearest Social Security Office, visit the Social Security website at or call them toll free at 1-800-772-1213.


Medicaid is the key to Adult Services. A person with a developmental disability may also be eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid is important in that it not only provides health care coverage but is also the pathway of access for many adult services through Medicaid waivers. A waiver means that the usual rules that accompany Federal Medicaid dollars are dropped. States then determine how the Medicaid money can be used.

For more information on Social Security, visit the website for Health & Disability Advocates, (formerly known as the SSI Coalition).

Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS)

In Illinois, the lead agency for provision of services to people with disabilities is the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Rehabilitative Services (DRS). Respite is an important service funded by DRS. DRS also provides many other services, some of which include assistance in mobility accommodations and assistive technology. For further details about DRS or to connect with the DRS office in your area, visit the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Rehabilitation Services website.

For more information about Government Benefits, please go to our Advocacy Toolbox.