Applying for Benefits

Applying for Benefits lisadanford June 2, 2023

Applying for Benefits

Turning 18 is a significant milestone. And for people with disabilities, it also means it’s time to apply for Social Security benefits.

Jenny Castrucci needed help filling out Social Security forms for her son, Ryan. “It got to the point where you don’t even understand what you’re reading. It’s hard to decipher what it all means,” she said.

Through her son’s service & support administrator (SSA), she got connected to the HCDDS Benefits Team. Benefits Analyst Teresa Schlemmer worked with Jenny to provide direction and help the family understand the Social Security application process.

Assisting with initial Social Security applications is a relatively new role, one Schlemmer took on in November 2021. In that first week, she had 30 new applications. “I meet with the person we serve and their legal guardians, if they have one, and we apply for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at the same time,” Schlemmer said. “We also talk about how work may impact their benefits.”

Throughout the process, Schlemmer provided guidance and reassurance to the Castruccis. “Teresa really made a big difference for us,” Jenny said.

In addition to initial applications, Schlemmer can also help when people have problems with Social Security, like if their checks stop coming.

Schlemmer said she enjoys assisting others in applying for much-needed benefits and the challenges they present, as the impact is so important to the people HCDDS supports. “This role makes it easier and more accommodating for our families. It has made a world of difference for people we support,” Schlemmer added.

Benefits Representatives at HCDDS help people we support obtain and maintain public benefits such as food assistance and Medicaid. Benefits Representatives are also available to consult with people we serve by assisting with applying for and maintaining Social Security Benefits, analyzing what benefits are available, and enrolling in programs. To get connected with the benefits team or to learn more, speak to your SSA.

A dad, mom, and their son with disabilities smile for a photo. They're wearing running bib numbers for PigAbilities.