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Financial Assistance For Parents Of Autistic Children

People with autism and their families usually have additional expenses required to meet their unique needs. Find financial assistance resources for parents of autistic children.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
August 26th, 2022

Can I get financial assistance for my autistic child?

Yes, there is a large amount of financial aids and benefits available to parents of children with autism. Some are from sources such as the Social Security Administration, Medicaid, insurance, educational support, and grants.

Some are tailored to assist people with impairments, while others are open to all families to meet certain financial requirements in certain states.

Fortunately, ABA therapy is covered by insurance in a variety of states, as there are many insurance providers which cover either most of the costs or all of them. Health insurance may also cover transportation expenditures since they could be considered "related services".

Financial Help Options For Parents With An Autistic Child

1. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for children with special needs

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is known as the only source of federal income and is a form of social security benefit. It can be a lifeline for a family with an autistic child, and it can help keep them afloat.

supplemental security income benefits

SSI is primarily for helping impoverished families, so not every child can qualify because they and their family are subject to income limits.

Fun fact: In most states, a child eligible for SSI will also be eligible for Medicaid.

Children who are qualified to receive support from SSI receive $791 per month. There are certain criteria your child must meet to qualify for SSI.

One of which is that he or she must have "marked and severe functional limitations", as determined by medical evidence. A few examples include a child having a diagnosis of autism, down syndrome, and cerebral palsy.

The maximum monthly amount of earned income a family can make for an autistic child to qualify for SSI is $3,301 for a one-parent family, and $4,095 for a two-parent family, as long as there are no other children in the home.

If there is more than one child, the amounts increase. If all income is unearned, the monthly limits are $1,628 and $2,025.

2. Tax credits for families with special needs

Tax deductions

Tax benefits are another method for reducing the financial burden for parents of children diagnosed with autism. First, reimbursed medical expenses on your federal income tax return are claimed.

Also, the amount that exceeds 7.5% of your adjusted gross income becomes deductible. For example, if your adjusted gross income is $50,000, the threshold is $3,750. And if you have medical expenses that cost $10,000, you are allowed to deduct up to $6,250.

Here are a handful of medical expenses to consider:

  1. Medications
  2. Doctor fees
  3. Foods necessary for medical conditions
  4. Health-care visits
  5. Therapy

Overall, tax benefits are something to take advantage of if you're looking to receive financial support for your child with autism. Many parents of children with special needs could receive a meaningful amount of financial support once they understand how to implement this method.

The child and dependent care credit

The child and dependent care credit is defined as a tax credit that allows parents to hire someone to look after their child while they are at work or look for work.

Fun fact: There is no age limit if the child is impaired.

This is a tax credit, and not a deduction. Therefore, it directly decreases your tax payment instead of just lowering your taxable income.

The maximum amount of credit is $3,000 per dependent, and a total credit of $6,000 is available and applies to child care, day camps, and after-school activities. It's important that you maintain accurate records to get the full benefit.

You should also seek advice from your accountant to make sure your family receives the maximum amount of financial support that is available from tax credits.

ABLE/529A account

The third tax credit for families with special needs children can receive is an ABLE account, or also known as a 529A account.

A 529A account is a state-sponsored account which allows people with special needs to save large amounts of money without jeopardizing their eligibility for government assistance.

This type of account allows individuals with disabilities and their families a tax-advantaged way to save money for disability-related expenses of the account's designated beneficiary.

It's something to take advantage of as soon as possible if you're a parent of an autistic child.

Your family can pay up to $15,000 each year without jeopardizing your federal benefits.

Fun fact: These aren't tax-deductible on the federal level, but they are tax-deductible in certain states.

Also, the size of the account that can be opened will vary by the state you live in.

Now that I've shown you a handful of tax credits for families of special needs children, I will now explain how Medicaid waivers can help give financial assistance to your family.

3. Medicaid waivers

A Medicaid Waiver (also known as 1915(c) Home and Community Based Services) program is for people with developmental challenges.

medicaid waivers

It's meant to offer support care and services for individuals to be able to stay at their home or community rather than live in a hospital, nursing home, or a facility.

All states operate one or more Medicaid waivers, so be sure to take advantage of this support option.

Medicaid waiver programs provide different benefits depending on the state your family lives in, but the majority of them cover medical therapies, transportation, in-home help, and other services.

In certain states, children don't need to meet Medicaid eligibility requirements to qualify for a Medicaid waiver.

Lastly, the requirements and availability vary from state to state. In short, Medicaid waivers are a very helpful resource for children with autism, and for their parents as it helps them reduce the need to stop working.

4. Special needs will and trust

Another form of financial support your family can receive is called a "special needs will and trust".

Some government benefits are conditional on the family's financial situation, and unfortunately, even gifting money to a child can influence their SSI eligibility.

That is why it's crucial to find out how much money your child can have before offering a gift or inheritance.

The alternative: a special needs will and trust can safeguard the money.

There is a statement in the will that the money a child inherits which states that it can only be used for things and services not covered by SSI, Medicaid, or other federal funds.

It's important to know that your child could lose federal benefits if you fail to include this statement until the inheritance is depleted.

There are serious consequences that your family could experience if you fail to establish a special needs will and trust correctly.

The child diagnosed with autism could be required to pay back the government for prior services. If the child has siblings, their shares of inherited money could also be jeopardized.

Therefore, the most responsible thing you could do as a parent is to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney. They will make setting up a special needs will and trust simple and straightforward, and will help you avoid potential consequences.

Overall, the special needs will and trust is a support option that your family should consider implementing.

5. The Assistive Devices Program (ADP)

If you're a resident of Ontario and have long-term physical challenges, then you could receive financial assistance from a program called the Assistive Devices Program, which provides financial support specifically to residents of Ontario.

For your child to be eligible for this program, they must have an Ontario health care and have been disabled for a minimum of six months.

There are several pieces of equipment that are all covered under the ADP up to 75% of their cost:

  1. Wheelchairs
  2. Hearing aids
  3. Mobility aids
  4. Visual and communication aids
  5. Respiratory equipment

The important step to make is to speak with an authorized practitioner, such as an occupational or speech therapist, to find out what your child requires. Read on to learn how your family can qualify for financial assistance.

How can I qualify for financial assistance?

Financial assistance programs are only available to children diagnosed with autism under the age of 18 who apply on their own behalf. These programs are only available to families who are in distressing financial circumstances.

If your family earns a lot of money, your child will not be eligible for SSI.

The good news? Your family's income restrictions increase as your family grows. For example, a single parent with one child, may not earn more than $38,000 (pre-tax) and still have their child qualify for SSI.

On the other hand, a large family of two parents and five children could earn approximately $60,000 (pre-tax) and have their child qualify for financial assistance.

Programs use an applicant's medical recommendations when deciding whether or not they're eligible for financial assistance. Your child is required to have the following medical documentation to be eligible for financial benefits:

  1. Deficiencies in verbal and nonverbal communication
  2. Deficits in social relationships
  3. Patterns of interests, behavior, or activities that are repetitive or restricted

Your child must also show "noticeable" or "extreme" deficits in at least two of the following:

  1. Task completion and concentration
  2. Understanding, remembering, and implementing the information they learn
  3. Having conversations with others
  4. Having control over their emotions

Wrapping Up

Raising children with autism can be very expensive and challenging for parents, but it can be easier with financial assistance. There are plenty of financial aids available to parents of autistic children throughout the U.S.

Whether you're a single parent or you have a significant other, be sure to take advantage of the resources available to your family.

At CrossRiverTherapy, we're a modern provider of in-home ABA therapy. Our dedicated team is creating a world where every child on the autism spectrum can receive best-in-class care at home, tailored to their specific symptoms, diagnosis, and needs.

To learn more about how Applied Behavior Analysis can help your child thrive on the spectrum, contact our team today.

References

  1. AutismSpeaks.org
  2. AmericanAdvocacyGroup
  3. Debt.org
  4. VeryWellHealth.com
  5. Ontario.ca
steven zauderer

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

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