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Wisconsin disability benefit programs and financial aid for the disabled.

Wisconsin agencies, some of which are non-profit and others are government run, provide assistance to individuals living with a disability. While many of the programs are run by the Disability Resource Centers that are located across the state, several other organizations listed below can also provide support. Examples of what may be offered includes food, housing, assistance for family members and caregivers, health care, and much more.

Any assistance programs available and that are noted below are available in addition to other public aid. For example, the individual or their family members may also be able to receive other government benefits for paying bills if they meet certain low income guidelines.

The Wisconsin Aging and Disability Resource Centers, or ADRCs, should be the first place to contact for information and assistance. Staff at the ADRC provide individuals or their family members with details on a broad range of services and assistance programs. They can help people apply for these benefits and answer questions on items such as available long term care options. What may be offered includes.

  • In-home care such as chore services and housekeeping.
  • Financial assistance - Learn about, and apply for Social Security SSI, Medicaid, Disability payments, Medicare, and other government benefit programs. There are also W-2 cash assistance programs in Wisconsin.
  • Home modifications - These will address safety and basic maintenance.
  • Nutrition, such as a food pantry and free home delivered meals.
  • Employment - Job training, vocational services, and volunteer work. Or get access to adaptive equipment.
  • Housing for the disabled - Assistance may be low income housing or rent assistance vouchers.
  • Other services including health care, respite, transportation.
  • Applications for heating bill assistance programs are offered for low income, disabled residents.

The Telecommunications Assistance Program (TAP) provides funds and cash grants to people who meet income and hearing loss eligibility criteria. The aid is intended to assist in the purchase of specialized telecommunication devices, such as a TTY. There may also be free government cell phones and other telecommunication equipment provided.




Counseling is offered at the Wisconsin Aging and Disability Resource Centers. Get help and advice when making decisions on what kind of help you need, about where to live, referrals when it comes to paying the bills, and more. The one-on-one consultation from a specialist will help you think through the pros and cons of the various options available.

Benefits counseling is similar to above. Specialists from ADRC help the disabled understand and access benefits such as FoodShare, Medicare, Medicaid, low-income housing, Social Security and health insurance. For more information on these or other Disability Resource Center programs, dial 1-888-879-0017.

CLTS Waivers, or Children's Long-Term Support Waivers, provide government funding for some specific services that are not paid for by the Wisconsin ForwardHealth Medicaid card. Treatment using behavioral methods is coordinated for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The main objective is to help the child improve their behavioral, social and communication skills.

Birth to 3 can support families of children with disabilities or delays, provided they are under the age of three. This is a federal government mandated program that is required from Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. (608) 266-1865.

Wisconsin Office for the Blind and Visually Impaired (OBVI) runs rehabilitation services. They were created in order to help individuals who are visually impaired or blind. Programs are available to allow them to achieve their goals of independent living. Workshops and classes address personal care, home management, Orientation & Mobility, and enhanced communications. 1-888-879-0017.

Centers for People with Developmental Disabilities are operated by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The locations are known as Southern Wisconsin Center as well as the central and northern centers. The Centers provide benefits to the clients to address psychological, social, health, developmental, educational and vocational needs.

The regional centers coordinate residential care and treatment to Wisconsin citizens with intellectual disabilities when this care cannot be provided by local non-profit human service agencies or charities. What may be provided includes evaluation, short term care and diagnosis as a supportive service to divert extended care admissions. It involved community consultation, treatment, training, and any needed intervention. 608-266-1865.





Children with Special Health Care Needs is the name of a resource that will ensure any medical needs are identified early. If needed, the child will receive high quality coordinated care and other benefits. The program partners with national organizations, state of Wisconsin and other local community-based partners to link children to appropriate social services and refer their families to financial aid. (608) 266-8178

The decisions as whether a resident qualifies for disability benefits, including SSDI, is made by the Wisconsin Disability Determination Bureau. They operate through and in partnership with the Department of Health Services Division of Health Care Access and Accountability.

For questions on the application process or any needed hearing, WDDB will be the organization to contact. They deal with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and any needed appeals or hearings. Staff will also address individuals that may have filed for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Another health care resource is Medicaid, which provides medical assistance for people who meet the programs' financial and medical requirements for disability. The Medicaid Purchase Plan will help people with disabilities who are working, or interested in work, the opportunity to buy federal government Medicaid coverage or insurance. Call (608) 266-1565 for information.

A state run long-term care service is Family Care. This will help improve an individuals independence and quality of life. It also addresses medical needs from community clinics and other centers. It will help give people better choices and information about the services and supports available to meet their needs. Staff will improve people's access to services. Learn more on free community clinics in Wisconsin.

Another application that WDDB may be able to assist with is the Katie Beckett Program, which offers  healthcare benefits to disabled children from birth through age 18. It can assist income qualified children with mental illness, long-term disabilities or other serious, complex medical needs and that are living at home with their families. It will help them obtain a Wisconsin ForwardHealth Medicaid card. (608) 266-1865 for more details.

Employment Initiatives are arranged by Department of Health Services. The fact is that a large number of people with significant disabilities still want to work and contribute. Many have talents, skills, and experience to offer. However they may face barriers to employment that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Therefore there are many non-traditional money making opportunities available for them, even including such things as watching videos or TV for money.

So support is available to help the disabled overcome any barriers to finding a job and going down a career path. Whether it is a full time or part time job, a side gig, work from home position, or something else, the disabled in Wisconsin have options. Dial (866) 278-6440

Physical Disabilities Services, including IRIS (Self-Directed Supports) is a form or long term care. Adults with physical or developmental disabilities who are Medicaid eligible are included in communities and homes across Wisconsin. This is a self-directed program in which residents can mange their benefits in any way they want to.

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) is focused on helping the disabled get a job. Several programs and services are offered, including career guidance and counseling, in an effort to make this happen.







Call the organization for information and referral services and to learn about supported employment services for people with severe disabilities. They may be provided rehabilitation technology if and when needed as well as vocational and other job training.

The state may coordinate transportation, occupational licenses, and tools and other equipment. Another benefit of working with the state is the ongoing post-employment services and help from a highly trained case manager. DVR also runs the Ticket to Work, which is a program offering Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities choices in finding the services they need to help them go to work and meet employment goals. Call Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Vocational Rehabilitation at 1-800-442-3477.

Additional non-profit and government resources for the disabled

Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Several resources are available, as noted below.

Bureau of Long-Term Support, Children’s Services Section, Community Options Section, and Developmental Disabilities Section, 1 West Wilson Street, Madison, WI  53703, (608) 266-1865
Some of what is administered includes the Birth to 3 Program, autism services, Children’s Long-Term Support, assistance for those with Developmental Disabilities Network, and also apply for the Katie Beckett Program.

Bureau of Prevention, Treatment and Recovery (BPTR), Mental Health Programs, 1 West Wilson Street, Room 850, P.O. Box 7851, Madison, WI 53707, (608) 266-2717

Board for People with Developmental Disabilities, 201 West Washington Avenue, Suite 110, Madison, WI 53703, (608) 266-7826, Toll-free 1-888-332-1677

Board on Aging and Long Term Care, 1402 Pankratz Street, Suite 111, Madison, WI 53704, Toll-free (800) 815-0015

Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services, Traumatic Brain Injury Lead Agency, 1 West Wilson, P.O. Box 7851, Madison, WI53703, call (608) 267-9258 for intake.

Bureau of Long-Term Support, Children’s Services Section, Community Options Section, and Developmental Disabilities Section, 1 West Wilson Street, Madison, WI 53703, (608) 266-1865

Division of Long Term Care, Bureau of Aging and Disability Resources, Office for the Blind and Visually Impaired (OBVI), 1 West Wilson Street, Room 451, Madison, WI 53707, Toll-free 1-888-879-0017
The agency will help people who are blind or visually impaired continue to live in their homes, get a job, access counseling, and receive home management skills and other assistance.

Division of Public Health, Bureau of Community Health Promotion, Arthritis Program
2224 West Kilbourn Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53233, (414) 344-0675

Bureau of Community Health Promotion, Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, Wisconsin 1 West Wilson, Room 218, Madison, WI 53703, (608) 261-9422

Division of Public Health, Bureau of Family and Community Health, Family Health Section, Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Program (CYSHCN), 1 West Wilson Street, Madison, WI 53703, (608) 266-8178
Supports children and youth with special needs. Benefits include Wisconsin First Step, which is an information hotline. The Newborn Screening Program helps infants with many disorders and will diagnose them for conditions.

The Arc-Wisconsin
2800 Royal Avenue, Suite 209
Madison, WI 53713
Toll-free (877) 272-8400

Autism Society of Wisconsin
1477 Kenwood Drive
Menasha, WI 54952
Toll-free 1-888-428-8476

Brain Injury Association of Wisconsin
21100 West Capitol Drive, Suite 5
Pewaukee, WI 53072
Telephone number is  1-800-882-9282.

Center for Communication, Hearing and Deafness
Main address - 10243 West National Avenue
West Allis, WI 53227
(414) 604-For information, call 2200

Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Location of office 10243 West National Avenue
West Allis, WI 53227
(414) 604-2200

Developmental Disabilities Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 8335
Madison, WI 53708

Independence First (Independent Living Center)
540 South 1st Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204
Call (414) 291-7520 for information.

Learning Disabilities Association of Wisconsin





National Multiple Sclerosis Society Wisconsin Chapter
1120 James Drive, Suite A
Hartland, WI 53029

Spina Bifida Association of Wisconsin, Inc.
830 North 109th Street, Suite 6
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
(414) 607-9061

United Cerebral Palsy of Southeastern Wisconsin
Main address: 7519 West Oklahoma Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53219
Toll-free 1-888-482-7739

University of Wisconsin-Madison, Waisman Center
1500 Highland Avenue
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 263-5940

Wisconsin Association of the Deaf
Cookie Roang, Membership Secretary
P.O. Box 342874
Milwaukee, WI 53234

Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
1700 West State Street
Janesville, WI 53546

A second office is at 754 Williamson Street, Madison, WI 53703, Toll-free 1-800-783-5213.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Wisconsin Medicaid
Main address is 1 West Wilson Street
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 266-1865





Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
P.O. Box 7851
1 West Wilson Street, Room 451
Madison, WI 53707
(608) 266-5641

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, School for the Deaf
309 West Walworth Avenue
Delavan, WI 53115
(262) 740-2066

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
125 South Webster Street, P.O. Box 7841
Madison, WI 53707
Main number - 1-800- 441-4563

Wisconsin Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities
1 West Wilson Street, Room 437
Madison, Wisconsin 53703
Phone (608) 261-7816

Wisconsin Paralyzed Veterans of America
Office address is 2311 South 108th Street
West Allis, WI 53227
Call - (414) 328-8910


By Jon McNamara

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