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Frequently Asked Questions for Family Members:

What type of disability is available for my loved one?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available for insured workers, their disabled surviving spouses, and children (disabled before age 22) of disabled, retired, or deceased workers.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available for people with little or no income and resources.

How do I get SSDI for my loved one?
Step 1 – Contact SSA at 800-772-1213 for an appointment, or complete an application online.

Step 2 – Complete the Adult/Child Disability Report. Be prepared to wait 3-5 months for a response from Social Security.

Step 3 – Many people are denied the first time they apply. You may need to file an appeal online or call 800-772-1213.

How do I get SSI for my loved one?
Make an appointment to complete an application by calling 800-772-1213 or visiting the U.S. Social Security Administration online.

What insurance is available for my loved one? How do I get counseling and medical assistance for my disabled family member when we don’t have insurance?
Medicare Part A (Hospital), Part B (Medical), and Part D (Prescription) is available to those who have received two years of SSDI regardless of income. Financial Assistance is also available through Medicare for extra help with prescription drug plan cost.

Visit Welvista: Hope and Wellness for the Uninsured if you are unable to afford medication.

How can I get my disabled family member committed to a hospital for help?
Your loved one must be considered a danger to themself or others. Call your local police department and ask for a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT).

How can I get and share information about my disabled family member to the medical staff when they are at the hospital?
Your loved one must sign a HIPAA agreement so that the hospital can discuss protected health information (PHI) with you. However, you always have the right to share information with the medical staff. They may not acknowledge information received by mail. If you want assurance, send it via certified mail.

Remind your family member to sign a release that specifies what types of communication they will allow.

Faxing a message to a private practitioner also works well and your message is easily added to the patient record.

What are the disabled family member’s rights under HIPAA and what are the concerned family member’s rights?
Visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for information on privacy rights.

What legal avenues do I have so that I can have input into what my disabled family member needs from the medical and legal system?
Contact SC Protection and Advocacy at 803-782-0639 for help.

What steps does the probate court take in committing a disabled family member to a mental health facility?
Anyone can begin the commitment process by filing with the probate court an application alleging that someone has psychiatric disabilities and is dangerous to self or others or gravely disabled. Two court-selected physicians examine the person to be committed and a hearing is scheduled 10 days later. The court must order commitment if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person meets the commitment requirements. The commitment is for the duration of the psychiatric disabilities or until the patient is discharged in due course of law.

What can I do when I feel threatened by my disabled family member (besides calling 911)?
Contact a CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) Officer. They are trained to recognize signs and symptoms of mental illnesses, appropriate medications and side effects, use of verbal de-escalation, active listening skills, and police tactics for safe restraint and use of force techniques.

My family member cannot live with me. Are there locations or facilities where they can live in Columbia?
Call the SC Department of Mental Health, 803-898-8581 for recommendations to community care homes in your area.

What is the process for a disabled family member to get released from the hospital after a suicide attempt?
The medical staff will decide when a patient makes progress that allows him to be able to maintain personal safety. No patient leaves the hospital without a discharge plan which includes follow-up doctor’s visits, living arrangements and to whom the person is to be discharged. If the family member is disabled, a hospital staff member will review this plan with the patient’s caretaker.

What are the names of the mental health facilities in Columbia?
Richland County: Columbia Area Mental Health, 803-898-8888
Lexington County: Lexington County Mental Health Center, 803-996-1500

What type of special services (mental health and educational services) do universities and colleges offer my disabled family member? Available services vary by college. To find out what local campuses offer, please check with the college:
University of South Carolina Counseling and Human Development Center, 803-777-5223
Columbia College – Counseling Services, 803-786-3856
Midlands Technical College, Counseling and Career Services, 803-822-3505 (Airport) or 803-738-7636 (Beltline)

What services are available to help my loved one get a job?
SC Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, 803-896-6500
Alston Wilkes Society (can help clients with criminal records), 803-799-2490
Work in Progress, 803-758-0066

Is there any agency offering legal assistance for individuals with disability issues?
SC Protection and Advocacy, 803-782-0639

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