One of the first major efforts by the U.S. government to acknowledge the need for special attention and action on the part of victims of traumatic brain injury was the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990. Yet, it took another six years before the Traumatic Brain Injury Act formally acknowledged brain injury as a major disability population. It authorizes research specific to traumatic brain injury, and strategies to prevent and increase awareness of this injury and improve access to services.
Many bills have been introduced, such as the Medicare Access to Complex Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Act, Kinship Caregiver Support Act, Keeping Families Together Act of 2007, and others which help caregivers with access to needed services, a wider choice of appropriate services, and making the transition between options. Some of these acts expand the services allowed under existing programs, and others create new programs.
The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP), Title III-E, under the Older Americans Act and the Native American Caregiver Support Program under Title VI-C provide grants to states for the purpose of developing programs that assist the caregiver.
Financial and Transitional Assistance
The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) is available to disabled adults who have had taxable earnings during any part of 40 quarters, and on which the employee paid Medicare and FICA taxes. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available to disabled adults who have not met the 40-quarter requirement and have little or no income or assets.
Persons on SSDI are entitled to Medicare benefits beginning on the 25th month after their SSDI payments began. Legislation has been proposed that would reduce the waiting period for Medicare for disabled persons who have life-threatening disabilities. Medicaid is a state medical coverage program that is matched from Medicare funds. There are strict eligibility requirements for Medicaid, but usually no waiting period once eligibility is established.
The SSA’s Ticket to Work Program (TTW) offers assistance for persons with disabilities who want to enter the workforce to whatever degree they can. The SSA identifies individuals who are likely to need high cost accommodations, such as a personal assistant, workplace modification, assistive technologies and more.
Another government effort supporting veterans is through the America’s Heros at Work site that offers help to veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who are trying to return to work.
Congress has introduced numerous tax credit and tax reduction bills that allow tax benefits to either the caregivers or victims of brain injury. U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs assists persons with disabilities by offering counselors to help find public housing, housing vouchers, relocation and rent assistance, and more.
For more information about programs that support victims of brain injury and their caregivers please refer to the website of McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates, P.A.