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Financial Issues

If the mental illness is severe and disabling, the person may qualify for Supplemental Social Security (SSI) payments. Contact the Social Security Administration office for information about applying for SSI. Applications can be made in person at the nearest Social Security Office, or on line and

The rules for getting and keeping SSI require a lot of proof of the disabling condition that prevents a person from working or participating fully in life. Some people with mental illness are turned down the first time or several times. It has to do with the quality of the proofs. A person will need to have detailed records showing the period of time with the disability, proof of efforts to get help, proof that the person cannot keep gainfully employed, and that the disability prevents full participation in life.  It is useful to talk with a disabilities attorney or a knowledgeable counselor who knows disability law and can help get the paperwork needed. The eligibility for SSI is reviewed at least every three years.

An adult qualified for SSI will also be eligible for Medicaid Insurance in Colorado; Medicaid pays for medically necessary treatment as well as medications.  The Medicaid eligibility for adults in Colorado depends on the person having SSI.  A person who is in an institution or incarcerated for long periods of time may stop getting SSI, and then will lose Medicaid benefits as well. A person may have to reapply for everything again.

If a person has worked enough qualifying periods before being disabled with a mental illness, the person qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The rules for SSDI are different than for SSI. A person with SSDI can qualify for Medicare to pay for hospitals and certain kinds of treatment.  If the monthly SSDI payments are low enough, a person may be Dually Eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.  A person who is dually eligible must follow the Medicare rules for mental health care, but if Medicare does not cover a needed service, then Medicaid will pay for that service. Medications are provided through a Medicare Part D plan.   

Long-term Care Issues:  Families may not provide money to people who get SSI for the basic necessities of life such as food, clothing or shelter without lowering the SSI payments. Families can provide certain other things that are considered special. If there is a need for long term care, families can set up a Special Needs Trust which allows money to be handled through the trust to provide personal support.