Benefits for Young People

Other Programs

You may qualify for many other benefits programs. For example, if you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and are over 18, you can probably get help from the NJ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (NJ SNAP) and may be able to get income support from WorkFirst New Jersey.

Depending on your circumstances, two Social Security programs may give you benefits based on contributions your parents made during their careers: Child’s Benefits and Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB).

Asset-building programs, including ABLE accounts, Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) can help you save up money without losing benefits you get that have income and resource limits.

NJ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (NJ SNAP)

The NJ SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) program helps you pay for food by giving you a plastic card, called an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, that looks and works like a debit card. New Jersey puts money on the EBT card each month and you use it to buy food. To qualify for NJ SNAP benefits, you must have low income and limited resources.

Note: If you and everybody else in your household gets either SSI or WorkFirst New Jersey benefits, you automatically qualify for NJ SNAP.

Learn more about NJ SNAP.

WorkFirst New Jersey

WorkFirst New Jersey gives money to families with low income and low resources who don't have enough to pay for basic needs, like food, clothing, and rent. For WorkFirst New Jersey, a family is one or two parents living with their child or children under 18. The age limit is 19 for children who are in school full-time. A family can include biological kids, step-kids, adopted kids, and children of relatives.

Learn more about WorkFirst New Jersey and other New Jersey cash assistance programs.

Apply for NJ SNAP, WorkFirst New Jersey, or other state programs

You can apply for Medicaid, NJ SNAP, and WorkFirst New Jersey by using NJHelps or by going to your county Board of Social Services and submitting a paper application.

Child’s Benefits (only if you are under 19)

The most common way for adults to get Social Security benefits, like SSDI or retirement benefits, is to work and pay into Social Security’s trust fund.

For young people, however, another common way to get Social Security benefits is to qualify for Child’s Benefits. You don't need to have a disability to qualify for Child’s Benefits. To get them, you must:

  • Be under the age of 18 (or 19 if you’re attending high school or other secondary education)
  • Not be married, and
  • Have a parent who gets Social Security retirement benefits or SSDI. If your parent is deceased, you may also qualify.

You get Child's Benefits in any month your parent gets a Social Security disability or retirement benefit, or if your parent is deceased and would have qualified for benefits. For example, if your parent is in SSDI's Trial Work Period, you keep getting Child's Benefits, but during the Extended Period of Eligibility, you only get a Child's Benefit in any month your parent gets SSDI benefits. Make sure to tell Social Security if your family is in this situation.

You can apply for Child’s Benefits at your local Social Security office or by calling 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY).

Learn more about Child's Benefits or talk to a Benefits Planner.

Childhood Disability Benefits (only if you are 18 or older)

If you have a disability, you may qualify to get money each month through the Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB) program. CDB is based on your parent’s work record.

To qualify, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Have a disability since before you turned 22 that meets Social Security's adult definition of disability
  • Not be married, unless your spouse also gets SSDI or CDB, and
  • Have a parent who gets Social Security retirement benefits or SSDI. If your parent is deceased, you may also qualify.

You don’t automatically get CDB when you turn 18. You can apply for it at your local Social Security office or by telephone at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY).

If you get CDB, you can also get health coverage through Medicare after a 24-month waiting period.

Learn more about CDB in DB101's SSDI article.

Asset-Building Programs

Instead of sending you money or paying for your health expenses, asset-building programs help you save up your own money so that you can afford to pay for future expenses, such as education, buying a car, or even retirement.

ABLE Accounts Help You Build More Assets

ABLE accounts let people who have disabilities that began before they turned 26 keep money in a special tax-advantaged account. The first $100,000 in an ABLE account doesn't count against the $2,000 SSI resource limit, and none of the money in an ABLE account counts for Medicaid.

Learn more about ABLE accounts.

Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)

An IDA helps people save money for a specific goal, such as buying a home, starting a small business, or paying for education. The great thing about an IDA is that for every dollar you save, the bank or other financial institution where you have your account matches your money. For example, if you save $50 per month, the financial institution might contribute $100 per month. The amount they contribute depends on the institution, but sometimes they put more money into your account than you do!

To open an IDA:

  • You must have low income, and
  • The money you contribute must be money that you earned from work, not from a benefits check, your parents, or any other source.

Note: There aren't as many IDA programs as there used to be. Some are still active, but it can take a bit of effort to find one that is accepting applications.

IDAs and SSI

If you get SSI benefits, only enroll in an IDA that is federally funded through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Assets for Independence Act (AFIA). SSI doesn't count money deposited into federally funded IDAs, so the money you save doesn't cause your SSI benefits to be reduced or stopped.

If you enroll in a nonfederally funded IDA (for example, one funded by a nonprofit or private company), money deposited and matched in your IDA could affect your benefits.

Read DB101’s Building Your Assets and Wealth article to learn more about IDAs.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

The federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) give money to low- to moderate- income workers and families. Even people who don’t make enough to owe income taxes may qualify for this tax credit.

To qualify, you must have income from employment, self-employment, or employer-paid disability benefits and you must file your taxes!

The amount of your federal EITC depends on your family size and income and can range from $2 to $7,830.

The New Jersey EITC is 35% of the Federal EITC, or $1 to $2,741. For example, if your federal EITC is $4,000, your New Jersey EITC is $1,400.

Note: If your income is too high, you don't qualify for the EITC credits.

File your taxes!

To get the Earned Income Tax Credit, you need to file your federal and state taxes, even if you owe nothing. Make sure to complete the “Schedule EIC” as well. Lots of people don’t get the EITC because they don’t know they could.

If you need help filing your taxes, get in touch with a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) center. With VITA, certified volunteers help prepare your taxes and make sure you get any credits you qualify for. Most sites also offer free electronic filing (e-filing). Find a local VITA center or call 1-800-906-9887.

For more details, read DB101’s Tax Credit page.

Learn more