6 Freebies for Disabled People on SSI or SSDI
Who Doesn't Like Free Stuff?
If you are disabled and receive either SSI or SSDI, there may be a host of free products and services available to you. If you are in need of help, the following programs can provide you with benefits ranging from free toothpaste to free refrigerators to free park passes. Links for each benefit are also provided where relevant to help you on your way to getting your freebies. Let's take a look at some of the no-cost benefits you might be eligible for.
1. Free Over-the-Counter Health Products
If you are covered by both Medicare and Medicaid due to having very low income or SSI/SSDI, chances are your healthcare plan has an over-the-counter benefit available to you. For example, the Molina Dual Options of Ohio program provides an annual $240 benefit to members that allows them to order from a large variety of health products at no charge and have the items delivered to their home. Some of the products you can get for free include . . .
- equipment, like bathroom scales, blood pressure monitors, heating pads, electric toothbrushes, and shower benches.
- vitamins and supplements, like fish oil, stress tablets, multivitamins, and glucosamine chondroitin MSM tablets.
- allergy remedies and acid reducers, like cough syrup, sore throat lozenges, and antacids.
- pain relievers, like ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, and analgesic rubs.
- digestive health products, like milk of magnesia and laxatives.
- dental care products, like toothpaste, oral pain relief gel, floss, and denture adhesive.
- first-aid products, like bandages, gauze, and antibiotic ointment.
Some states that offer this benefit have a printed catalog or website from which you can order the free products you need. Others offer a benefits card that you can take to participating pharmacies. You generally will not be charged any tax or shipping fees on these OTC items.
This freebie helps you, but it also helps taxpayers and the medical industry. Providing for basic medical aids such as pain relievers and fever reducers keeps costs lower by eliminating unnecessary and costly trips to the emergency room.
To see if you qualify for this benefit, contact customer service at your healthcare plan and ask if they have an OTC benefit for participants with dual Medicaid and Medicare enrollment.
2. Free Energy-Efficient Home Appliances
The United States Department of Energy has a Home Weatherization program available to certain low-income citizens in all US states and territories. Priority is given to homes that have a resident who receives SSI. The weatherization program provides government grants for free replacement of broken furnaces and energy-inefficient refrigerators and deep freezers in your home. This program can also provide roof repairs, window replacements, and HVAC fixes with the goal of making low-income Americans' homes more energy-efficient. All of this may be free to you.
The Home Weatherization Program has many goals. It helps the government maintain existing housing, creates economic activity by providing employment to contractors across the country, and helps private citizens lower their energy and housing costs.
3. Free Smartphone and Phone Service
If you live within poverty guidelines on SSI or SSDI, you are likely eligible for a free phone with service. The old "Obamaphone" program has become more generous, with cell phone carriers now providing up to 1000 free minutes per month as well as unlimited texts.
In the past, many carriers had limited free talk time to 250 minutes. This is welcome news to low-income folks who need enough minutes to talk to doctors and service providers and to keep in contact with family. Participants were previously limited to candy bar or flip-style phones, but carriers are now starting to offer smartphones as well. To enjoy this low-income benefit, try Q Link Wireless. They offer a free smartphone, 1000 minutes, 1GB data, and unlimited texts each and every month.
4. Free Broadband Internet Service
If you are currently living on SSI or SSDI income in HUD-assisted housing (or are planning to live in one of these settings), a government initiative called ConnectHome Nation might be bringing free internet service to your location.
ConnectHome Nation currently provides free and low-cost internet service to communities in a number of cities. They are currently working on a national initiative to expand free and deeply reduced-cost broadband internet to 350,000 households in over 100 American communities.
Currently, they provide internet to HUD communities in cities including Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Boston, MA; Camden, NJ; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Memphis, TN; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; San Antonio, TX; Seattle, WA; Tampa, FL; and Washington, DC.
Even if you don't currently reside in one of these areas, it's worth checking whether the program may be available in your community. To see if you can get free or reduced-cost internet in your zip code, visit ConnectHome nation's website.
5. Free Federal Recreational Lands Pass
The United States government encourages all citizens to explore the country's beautiful landscapes at over 2,000 Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and US Fish and Wildlife Service sites. These sites offer sightseeing, fishing, sporting, walking, hiking, riding, picnicking, and other opportunities. If you are an SSI or SSDI recipient, you can enjoy free access to all of these recreational areas using your complimentary Federal Recreational Lands Access Pass.
In contrast, a non-disabled annual pass usually costs around $80 per year. A single-day visit to one of these sites without a pass costs around $20 per person, so the benefit is extremely valuable to those looking for travel, leisure, and wilderness education on the cheap. The disabled persons' Access Pass is good for a lifetime, so the benefits can very easily add up to over $1,000 in value. Your pass also allows you to waive entrance fees for up to three guests, so if you have family, are in a wheelchair, have a caretaker, or just want to bring a friend along with you, they are covered too.
Some of the most popular sites you can visit for free include:
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site
- Yellowstone National Park
- Colorado National Monument
- Yosemite National Park
Many sites, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Statue of Liberty National Park, Denali National Park and Reserve, Yellowstone National Park, Congaree National Park, and Frederick Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park, have ADA-accessible handicap-friendly tours, so you can visit even if you have a physical disability that limits your mobility.
To apply for the free lifetime Access Pass, you will need to document your disability by visiting one of the sites and bringing a letter from Social Security regarding your receipt of SSI or SSDI. To find out about sites that accept the Access Pass near you, visit the United States Government's recreation site.
6. Free Job Training
If you are determined to voluntarily get back into the workforce, the Social Security Administration runs a free job-training initiative called Ticket to Work. Through state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies and private partnerships, this program aims to help SSI and SSDI recipients become independent again.
The benefits include job opportunities with the government and a clause that states that you won't have to compete with non-disabled applicants for jobs. The Ticket to Work program also allows you to retain free Medicare insurance for eight years after you begin working again so long as you still have a disability.
Make the Most of Your Benefits
Although being disabled and living on a fixed income comes with daily challenges, it is helpful to know that these free programs exist to enhance your quality of life. The more research you do, the more benefits and freebies you are likely to discover.
Which free benefit are you most interested in?
Questions & Answers
Will I qualify for freebies if I am disabled?
If you are on SSI or SSDI and are generally low income, you should qualify for at least some of these programs.Helpful 67
Is there free help out there for disabled people on things like a mattress or vacuums?
The only thing I can imagine is that you might be able to get therapeutic mattress products through Medicare if medically necessary. While I don't know of any programs for vacuums, you might be able to get reimbursed for housecleaning services under Medicare if your disability prevents you from cleaning your own home.Helpful 59
Do I have to own the house to be eligible for the weatherization project? My landlord allows tenants to use their own appliances.
No, fortunately you can be a renter, but I believe you need the landlord's permission on the weatherization paperwork.Helpful 47
Do any disability benefits count against my SSI, like the appliances, since they are expensive items?
No, the Federal government has made an exception for the weatherization program so any benefit you get from it is not counted as an asset and is also not taxable. The other benefits listed also do not count against SSI or SSDI.Helpful 26
Where can I can a refrigerator as a disabled person on SSI?
You would need to apply for the Weatherization program noted in the article above.Helpful 37
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