Benefits and Financial Planning

Medicaid Waiver Programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities 

Waiver programs help people who are elderly or have disabilities and need help to live in their home or community instead of an institution such as a nursing home or intermediate care facility for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Each program offers several “core” services:

  • service coordination (help with managing care needs and services)
  • personal support (assistance with daily living activities, i.e. bathing, dressing, meals and housekeeping)
  • home health services (nursing, home health aide, and occupational, physical and speech therapy)
  • emergency response systems
  • respite care (caregiver relief)

New Options Waiver Program (NOW) and Comprehensive Supports Waiver Program (COMP)  – Updated 10/20/17

The NOW and COMP Waiver Programs provider services and support for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) provides day-to-day operations in these programs through six regional field offices. These programs offer an array of services designed specifically for the population such as support employment, residential services, specialized medical equipment and supplies, vehicle adaptation and behavior support services. To apply for services in one of these programs, please refer to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Services (DBHDD).


The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources.   SSI benefits also are payable to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits.    People who have worked long enough may also be able to receive Social Security disability or retirement benefits as well as SSI.

Access to Social Security Benefits in Georgia


Stable Accounts

What is a STABLE Account?

STABLE Accounts give people with special needs more independence and financial security

A STABLE Account is an investment account available to eligible individuals with disabilities. STABLE Accounts are made possible by the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (“ABLE”) Act. STABLE Accounts allow individuals with disabilities to save and invest money without losing eligibility for certain public benefits programs, like Medicaid or SSI. Earnings in your STABLE Account are not subject to federal income tax, so long as you spend them on “Qualified Disability Expenses.”

STABLE Accounts have some similar features to normal bank accounts, but they are not checking or savings accounts. STABLE Accounts are investment accounts, similar to 529 college savings accounts or 401(k) retirement accounts. When you deposit money into your STABLE Account, your money will be invested in different options that you choose. While you can still withdraw and spend your money whenever you need it, a STABLE Account also allows you to grow your money and to save long-term for disability expenses.

Through the Georgia STABLE program, the State of Georgia is offering STABLE Accounts to Georgians with disabilities.  Although STABLE Accounts are available nationwide, Georgia STABLE is only available to Georgia residents, and allows Georgians access to STABLE Accounts at discounted rates.

The Arc of the United States has a short summary and more detailed information about the new ABLE accounts, and a frequently updated tracker of ABLE state legislation. For more information on planning for the future, visit The Arc’s Center for Future Planning.


Special Needs Trusts

Planning for the future is important, regardless of your child’s age or your age or disability. Special needs trusts are used to help provide the extras in life, above and beyond the basics provided by government programs.

What is a Special Needs Trust?

A special needs trust is an irrevocable trust established for the benefit of a named person. The named person is the beneficiary of the trust and the trustee distributes funds, according to the trust document, from the trust for the benefit of the beneficiary. A special needs trust enables the beneficiary to enhance their quality of life and provides resources beyond what governmental assistance or their own limited personal resources might otherwise provide.

A pooled trust is used to provide for the future needs of a person who has a disability (as defined in Social Security laws).  However, a trust may also be established to provide for the future needs of a person whose disability status has not been established.  The Arc of Georgia Pooled Trust offers both options.