Do you qualify for Michigan State Disability Assistance benefits?

Federal disability benefits aren’t the only source of financial assistance for those in need. If you’re disabled – or a caregiver for a disabled person – you might qualify for state assistance as well.

If you have a disability, you are likely already familiar with federal Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). But did you know you might also be eligible for need-based state disability benefits - on top of any other benefits you already receive?

Michigan's State Disability Assistance (SDA) program provides supplemental benefits to those who qualify. While the benefits rarely exceed a few hundred dollars per month, if you are disabled and unable to work, every dollar can make a difference.

Who can qualify?

SDA benefits are available to three categories of recipients:

  • Those who are disabled
  • Live-in caregivers for those with disabilities
  • Those age 65 or older

SDA is a need-based program. Your cash assets (bank accounts, investments and retirement accounts) must not exceed $3,000. Additionally, your monthly income must remain below a certain threshold. "Income" for purposes of the SDA program includes wages, self-employment earnings and any other cash benefits you receive.

Additionally, to qualify, you must be living in Michigan, and you must not be receiving cash benefits from other states.

What counts as a disability?

There are two ways to demonstrate that you are disabled. First, you may automatically qualify for SDA benefits if you already:

  • Receive SSD, SSI or Medicaid benefits due to a disability
  • Receive services through the Michigan Commission for the Blind or Michigan Rehabilitation Services
  • Have been deemed eligible for special education services
  • Live in a qualifying care facility (Special Living Arrangement facility) such as a nursing home or adult foster care

Even if you don't meet any of these qualifications, you may still be eligible for SDA benefits if you obtain a medical certification of disability. During the application process, you will need to submit medical evidence of your disability, including evidence that your disability will render you unable to work for at least 90 days. A state Disability Examiner will review this evidence and either grant or deny a certification. The examiner may also require that you comply with a treatment or rehabilitation plan as a condition of receiving benefits.

What about substance abuse?

Substance abuse won't automatically disqualify you from SDA benefits. During the review process, the Disability Examiner will determine whether substance abuse is a material contributing factor to your disability. If it is, your application will be denied. However, if substance abuse is not a material contributing factor, you may still receive benefits on the condition that you participate in a substance abuse treatment program.

Benefits for caregivers

If you are the caregiver of a disabled person, you may also qualify for SDA benefits. These benefits are available to those who help with day-to-day errands, personal care, medication assistance and other necessary tasks.

You don't need to be a medical professional to qualify. However, you must submit evidence showing that your services are medically necessary for at least 90 days. You must live with the disabled person, although you don't need to be related to him or her.

The process of applying

SDA benefits are handled by the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS). You can apply for benefits anytime, either online or in person at a local DHS office.

The time frame for the SDA application process is much faster than federal benefits. By law, your application must be approved or denied within 60 days.

Before applying, however, you should speak with a qualified disability attorney to discuss your options. The right attorney can help you prepare a strong application and guide you through the nuances of the process.

Keywords: disability, disability benefits, state disability benefits, disabled, caregivers, Michigan State Disability Assistance, SDA