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Can You Get Financial Help for Autism?

Explore how you can get financial help for autism, from government assistance to non-profit aid.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
May 30, 2024
9 min read
min read

Understanding Autism Financial Support

Addressing the question, "can you get financial help for autism?", this section provides a comprehensive overview of the financial aid available for families with autistic individuals and the eligibility requirements for these assistance programs.

Overview of Autism Financial Aid

Financial aid for autism is available from various sources, including private and non-profit organizations, government assistance programs, and state programs. These organizations and programs offer research funding, support, and information for individuals with autism and their families.

Moreover, organizations such as Autism Speaks have compiled a list of resources for financial assistance, providing support for unique needs and additional expenses associated with autism [2]. They also provide a tool kit designed to assist families in mapping out the financial future of their child with autism.

Eligibility for Autism Support

Eligibility for financial support varies depending on the type of assistance being sought. For example, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a government payment designed to support individuals aged 65 and older, blind, or disabled, including those with autism.

Similarly, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides benefits for adults with disabilities that began prior to age 22, including individuals with autism. SSDI payments can be considered a "child's" benefit based on a parent's Social Security earnings record [2].

Another assistance option is the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014, which authorized the establishment of ABLE accounts. These are private tax-advantaged savings accounts that allow families of individuals with disabilities, including autism, to save for long-term expenses while retaining eligibility for public benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

In summary, there are a myriad of financial aid options available to families with autistic individuals. However, it's important for families to carefully review the eligibility requirements and application processes for each assistance program to ensure they select the most suitable support for their specific needs.

Financial Aid from Non-Profit Organizations

Numerous non-profit organizations offer financial aid programs to support families with children diagnosed with autism. These initiatives can play a vital role in lessening the financial burden associated with autism therapies and care. Here, we'll explore four organizations providing such support: Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation (ASDF), Autism Care Today, Special Angels Foundation, and United Healthcare Children's Foundation (UHCCF).

Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation (ASDF)

The Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation provides several programs aimed at enhancing social skills, communication, and self-confidence in children with autism. These include the Summer Scholarship Program, iPads for Kids Program, and holiday gift cards. Each program is designed to provide targeted support to enhance the quality of life for autistic children. To apply or learn more about their programs, visit the ASDF website or contact them directly.

Autism Care Today's Programs

Autism Care Today runs a Quarterly Assistance Program, which directly covers the costs of various services for children with autism. These services include Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy, speech and occupational therapy, biomedical testing, supplements, assistive technologies, safety equipment, social skills groups, and special needs summer camps. The assistance provided by Autism Care Today can significantly help families manage the costs associated with comprehensive autism care [3].

Special Angels Foundation's Assistance

The Special Angels Foundation offers support to families raising children with special needs, including autism. The foundation grants resources based on specific criteria such as a letter of medical necessity, the child's age, US citizenship, quality of life qualification, and verified denial of assistance from other medical resources. This targeted support can be a lifeline for families struggling to cover the costs of autism care.

United Healthcare Children's Foundation (UHCCF)

The United Healthcare Children's Foundation provides financial assistance to families with children who have medical needs not fully covered by their commercial health insurance plan. This grant can be used to cover the costs of treatments, services, or equipment that enhance the health and well-being of the child, including therapies for autism.

These non-profit organizations are just a few examples of the resources available for families seeking financial support for autism care. It's recommended to research and apply to multiple organizations to increase the likelihood of securing financial assistance. Remember that each organization has its own application process and eligibility criteria, so thorough research and preparation are key to a successful application.

Government Assistance for Autism

There are various government assistance programs available for families of individuals with autism. These programs can provide financial help for autism, alleviating some of the financial strain associated with long-term care and support. We will explore three key programs: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a government payment designed to support individuals aged 65 and older, blind, or disabled. Those with autism may be eligible to receive SSI for financial support. The eligibility and amount of financial assistance depend on various factors, including the individual's income and resources. It's recommended to consult with a Special Needs Alliance representative or a similar expert for personalized advice.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides financial benefits through Social Security for adults with disabilities that began prior to age 22, including individuals with autism. SSDI payments can be considered a "child's" benefit based on a parent's Social Security earnings record. SSDI benefits can significantly impact taxable income and the amount claimable on tax returns, so consulting with tax professionals or using reputable tax software can help in correctly filing tax returns to maximize deductions.

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act

The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014 authorized the establishment of ABLE accounts. These are private tax-advantaged savings accounts that allow families of individuals with disabilities, including autism, to save for long-term expenses while retaining eligibility for public benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) [2]. The ABLE Act provides families with a valuable tool to plan for future expenses and ensure financial stability for their loved ones with autism.

These government initiatives aim to lessen the financial burden on families caring for individuals with autism. It's essential to thoroughly research these options and consult with professionals to understand the best way to leverage these programs for your specific situation.

Support for Special Needs Employment

In addition to financial aid, there are also initiatives focused on supporting the employment of individuals with special needs, such as autism. These initiatives aim to provide opportunities for individuals on the autism spectrum and aid in their career development. Among these initiatives are The Social Tree Foundation's programs and a corporate inclusion pilot project.

The Social Tree Foundation's Initiatives

The Social Tree Foundation is an organization committed to supporting individuals on the autism spectrum. It provides free workshops for family support, quality of life support, and career development support for individuals on the autism spectrum. These workshops are scheduled monthly based on demand [5].

Program Details
Family Support Offering workshops to provide guidance and support for families of individuals on the autism spectrum
Quality of Life Support Workshops aimed at improving the quality of life for individuals on the autism spectrum
Career Development Support Workshops focused on career development opportunities for adolescents, young adults, and adults on the autism spectrum

Apart from workshops, the foundation also provides individualized information packages, conferences, and support services for families of individuals on the autism spectrum. Donations contribute to the development of a Career and Resource Center for adolescents, young adults, and adults seeking career development opportunities.

Corporate Inclusion Pilot Project

The Social Tree Foundation is also seeking companies to enroll in its 'employee/corporate inclusion' pilot project. This initiative is designed to promote the inclusion of individuals on the autism spectrum in the workplace. The foundation hosts workshops, conferences, and a Career Center focusing on the latest evidence-based research on Autism Spectrum Disorder and Career Development. Its aim is to create a more inclusive future for individuals on the autism spectrum [5].

The project offers companies an opportunity to enhance their workforce diversity and contribute to a more inclusive society. It's an initiative that answers the question, "can you get financial help for autism" not just in terms of direct financial aid but through support for self-sufficiency and enhanced career opportunities for individuals with autism.

Tax Benefits for Special Needs Families

Navigating the financial landscape when caring for a child with autism can be challenging. However, there are several tax benefits that families with special needs can avail of to ease the financial burden.

Claiming a Special Needs Child as Dependent

Claiming a special needs child as a dependent can result in a significant reduction in taxable income. In 2013, this reduction was as high as $3,900 (though the amount varies for higher-income taxpayers). This amount is deductible as a medical expense, potentially reducing the income tax burden [4]. Notably, disabled children can qualify for dependency exemption and other benefits regardless of age.

Special Needs Trust and Tax Implications

A special needs trust can provide financial security for a child with autism. However, it can complicate the family's income tax situation, as trust income may be taxed as if the child received it. This situation might impact the ability to claim the child as a dependent, or may result in higher total tax savings if the child is listed as a dependent on their own tax return.

Overlooked Deductible Expenses

There are some deductible expenses that families with a child with special needs may overlook. Many incurred expenses can qualify as medical expenses on the income tax return if the child is claimed as a dependent. However, the total deductions need to be at least 10% of the income to qualify.

In addition, Social Security benefits for people with disabilities can significantly impact taxable income and the amount claimable on tax returns, depending on whether the disabled dependent is an adult child or a foster child. Consulting with tax professionals or using reputable tax software can help in correctly filing tax returns to maximize deductions [4].

Understanding these tax benefits can help families with children with autism navigate the financial landscape more effectively. By taking advantage of these benefits, families can secure financial help for autism and ensure a more stable future for their children.

Financial Aid from State Programs

When it comes to the question, 'can you get financial help for autism', there are various state programs that offer financial aid to families with children with autism. Here, we'll explore five programs from different provinces in Canada.

Family Support Program in Quebec

In Quebec, services for autism are bundled with programs for physical and intellectual disabilities. This amalgamation often results in fragmented services and long waitlists. The Ministry of Health and Social Services offers programs for individuals of all ages with disabilities, including autism. Families can get more information and access these services by contacting their integrated health and social services centre (CISSS) or integrated university health and social services centre (CIUSSS).

Ontario Autism Program

Ontario offers the Ontario Autism Program (OAP), which provides funding directly to families to purchase services and supports for children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The funding amount is age-dependent, providing up to $20,000 per year for children under six and $5,000 per year for children aged six and older. The funds can be sent directly to families or service providers.

New Brunswick Preschool Autism Program

New Brunswick's Preschool Autism Program provides Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI) for preschool children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This program offers up to 20 hours of EIBI per week through an approved autism agency.

Family Support for Children with Disabilities in Alberta

Alberta operates the Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) program under the FSCD Act. This program offers financial aid to all children and youth under the age of 18 who have a developmental, physical, sensory, mental, or neurological condition or impairment. The FSCD program is needs-based, and the funding amounts and level of support are determined based on the unique needs of each family and child.

Autism Funding Program in British Columbia

Parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in British Columbia can receive funding through the Autism Funding Program. This program provides direct funding of up to $22,000 per year for parents of children under six, and up to $6,000 per year for children aged six to 18. The funds can be used for eligible expenses such as support services, therapy, equipment, training, and travel related to a child's skill development or therapy goals.

These state programs aim to provide financial assistance to families dealing with autism, offering a means to access necessary supports and services. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to research available programs in their area and reach out to local health and social services departments for comprehensive information.

References

[1]: https://iacc.hhs.gov/resources/organizations/private/

[2]: https://www.autismspeaks.org/financial-autism-support

[3]: https://www.autismspeaks.org/autism-grants-families

[4]: https://www.specialneedsalliance.org/the-voice/tax-tips-for-parents-of-a-child-with-special-needs/

[5]: https://www.thesocialtreeautism.org/

[6]: https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2013/jun/20137378.html

[7]: https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/disabilities/

[8]: https://www.autismontario.com/oap

[9]: https://aidecanada.ca/resources/learn/financial/under-18-supports

steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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