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Protecting Their Future: Financial Planning For Your Child With Autism, Part Two

Medicaid Resource CO

Written by: Joshua Sleeper

In part one of our financial planning series, we discussed the importance of assembling a financial planning team for your child with autism. And while finding a financial planner, attorney, and government benefits specialist is a good first step toward protecting your child’s financial future, it’s also important to be aware of the benefits, entitlements, trusts, and funding available for your child and family. In this blog, we’re taking a deeper look into the financial benefits available to your child with autism throughout their lifetime.

Protecting Their Future: Financial Planning For Your Child With Autism (Part 1)

Government Programs For Your Child With Autism

As the parent of a child with autism, you may qualify for certain types of financial support from the federal government. These forms of financial support can help you cover some of the costs of caring for your child with autism. These may include:

  • Supplemental Security Income: This is a Social Security Program that provides monthly cash payments to adults and children who have limited income and resources. SSI pays benefits to those who meet the SSA definition of disability, and benefits are based on financial need.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): Also administered by the Social Security Administration, SSDI pays benefits to anyone who has paid Social Security taxes for a certain amount of time, regardless of financial need. SSDI partially covers the disabled person’s spouse and dependents. SSDI is payable to adult “children” of parents who are receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

There are two ways that you can apply for disability benefits: 

  1. Apply online at SocialSecurity.Gov
  2. Call 1-800-772-1213, to make an appointment to file a disability claim at your local Social Security office, or to set up an appointment for someone to take the claim over the phone

Medicaid Benefits

Medicaid is a program that pays for a wide range of services for people with disabilities and provides government-funded health insurance for those with limited financial resources. If your child qualifies for Supplemental Security Income, they are also able to receive Medicaid. This government program covers a range of autism treatments for your child, including speech, physical, and occupational therapy. You should apply through the relevant agency in your state, such as the Health or Department of Developmental Services. 

Read More: Navigating Insurance And ABA Therapy: A Roadmap For Parents

Children’s Health Insurance Program

The Children’s Health Insurance Program is another option for funding your child’s autism treatment and services. This program is administered by the United States Health and Human Services, and it provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families and children. It provides health coverage to children up to age 19 in low-income households who aren’t eligible for Medicaid. So if your child is under the age of 19 and your family does not qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program is a good alternative option. You can apply for this program via the Benefits.Gov website.

Trusts For Your Child With Autism

While government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid can support your child’s current needs for autism services and therapy, it’s also critical to plan for their financial future. Certain types of trusts can ensure your child is financially cared for, even when you are no longer able to serve as a caregiver. 

  • ABLE Accounts: These tax-advantaged savings accounts allow for individuals who became disabled before they turn 26 to save without hurting their eligibility to other government programs. ABLE accounts are like 529 plans. Contributions can be made by anyone but are capped at $15,000 per year. If the ABLE account exceeds $100,000, the individual is no longer eligible for SSI. Your financial advisor can assist you with setting up an ABLE account.
  • Special Needs Trusts (SNT): A special-needs trust is used to pay for things that government benefits don’t provide but that can help build a better life, things like rehabilitation, supplemental medical care, computers, entertainment, and travel.  A special needs trust can be set up for your loved one to help provide funding options to supplement their government benefits. Those benefits – Social Security, Medicaid, etc. – cover the bare necessities for your loved one, things like food and a place to live. 

Why A Trust Is So Important

Government benefits are based on income and asset limits. If you leave money to

your child, that money goes directly to them as income, and it could disqualify your child from getting some government benefits. But if you have a special needs trust, that income can be left to the trust. Because your child with autism is no longer the direct recipient, the money generally does not count as income or assets. A special-needs trust can go a long way in providing financial security for your child with autism.

Protecting Your Child’s Future

When it comes to financing your child’s autism therapy or planning for their long-term financial security, you have a huge range of options available. It’s best to work alongside your financial planning team to determine the best benefits and trusts for your child. At Trumpet Behavioral Health, we can help direct you toward financial planners that might work well with your family, ensuring you feel confident that your child’s financial future is safe.