Benefits for Young People

Key Programs

This section introduces:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Health First Colorado (Medicaid)
  • The Health First Colorado Buy-In Program For Working Adults With Disabilities (Medicaid Adult Buy-In), and
  • Private health coverage.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI is the most important benefit that offers money for young people with disabilities. Even if you've never had a job, you may be able to get SSI. Even if you are under 18 and live with your parents, you may be able to get SSI.

Who it helps

If you have a disability, don’t have enough money for your basic needs, don’t have much income, and have limited resources, you may be able to get SSI. (If you are under 18, your parents also must have low income and limited resources for you to qualify for SSI.)

How it helps

If you qualify, SSI gives you money each month to help with your expenses, like food and rent. If you get SSI benefits, you also qualify automatically for Health First Colorado (Medicaid).

Learn more about SSI eligibility.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

When you work, taxes are taken out of your paycheck. Some of those taxes are automatically paid into the SSDI program. If you work for long enough while paying into SSDI and then your disability limits how much you can work, you will get money each month from SSDI.

SSDI doesn't cover many young people, because they haven’t worked long enough to get benefits from it. However, if you get a job, your job could help you qualify for SSDI later. And, the more you work, the more SSDI will pay you if you need it!

Learn more in DB101's SSDI article.

Health First Colorado (Medicaid)

Health First Colorado (Medicaid) is the most important public health benefit for young people with disabilities.

Who it helps

Health First Colorado (Medicaid) is for people who cannot afford medical expenses. Generally, to get it, you or your family must have low income. If you get SSI benefits, you automatically qualify for Health First Colorado (Medicaid). If your family makes more money, you may be able to pay a premium to get covered by the Health First Colorado (Medicaid) Buy-In Program for Children with Disabilities.

How it helps

If you qualify, Health First Colorado (Medicaid) pays for your medical expenses, including visits to the doctor, hospital stays, prescription drugs, medical equipment, and other medical services. Health First Colorado (Medicaid) may also pay for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waivers that help you live in the community.

Learn more about Health First Colorado (Medicaid) eligibility.

The Medicaid Adult Buy-In

The Health First Colorado Buy-In Program For Working Adults With Disabilities (Medicaid Adult Buy-In), sometimes called "WAwD" for short, lets you get a job and keep your Health First Colorado (Medicaid) health coverage.

Who it helps

The Medicaid Adult Buy-In is for people 16 or older with disabilities who have jobs. The income limit is much higher than with standard Health First Colorado (Medicaid), but you have to pay a monthly premium. The amount of your premium depends on your income.

How it helps

The Medicaid Adult Buy-In pays for the same services that standard Health First Colorado (Medicaid) covers, including visits to the doctor, hospital stays, medical equipment, and other medical services.

Learn more about Medicaid Adult Buy-In eligibility.

Private Health Coverage

Private health insurance is the most common way people get health coverage.

Who it helps

People get private health coverage in different ways. Some get it through their jobs, others get it from their parents’ employers, and some sign up for it on their own at Connect for Health Colorado. If you get an individual health plan, the government may help pay your monthly premium through tax subsidies. Note: For 2021 and 2022, there is no income limit for getting subsidies that help pay individual coverage premiums. (The limit used to be 400% of FPG.) To get subsidies, you still must meet other eligibility rules and the premium amount you pay depends on your income and your plan.

How it helps

Private health coverage pays for some of your medical costs when you see doctors, visit other health care providers, do lab tests, or get prescription medicines at a pharmacy. Depending on your private health plan, your coverage may pay for almost all of your medical expenses or for just a part of those expenses.

Learn more about private health coverage.

Learn more