If your child has been recently diagnosed with autism, you are probably feeling overwhelmed with this new direction your life has taken and inundated with information about how to care for your very special child. The good news is that there are a number of ways that the government and other organizations can help you. A few of them are listed below.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI)
SSI is a financial benefit through Social Security and is available for children younger than age 18. Your child can qualify if he or she has a physical or mental condition (or a combination of conditions) that meets Social Security’s definition of disability.
The required level of severity for autistic disorders is met when a doctor finds that your child has the following:
- Deficits in reciprocal social interaction
- Deficits in communication and imagination, and
- A restricted range of activities and interests (this is not needed for Asperger’s syndrome)
In addition, the conditions above must cause serious limitations in at least two of the following:
- Communicative/cognitive functioning
- Social functioning
- Personal functioning, and/or
- Sustained concentration, persistence or pace.
Medicaid Home and Community Based Services
Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waivers are available through many states’ Medicaid health care programs. This waiver provides funding for a variety of home and community-based services. Medicaid waivers can help fund minor home modifications, counseling and therapies, supervised living, and day assistance among other services.
Help for Adults with Autism
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program administered by the Social Security Administration that provides financial assistance to individuals who have a disability that began before age 22. SSDI is paid based on a parent’s Social Security earnings record and are available if one of the parents is either receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits, has died and worked for a sufficient amount of time under Social Security, or if the disabled adult received “dependent’s benefits” on the parent’s Social Security earnings prior to age 18.
Luckily, there are a growing number of government financial resources that are available for adults with autism spectrum disorders or to programs that they attend. However, many of these resources are “income dependent,” meaning that there is a limit to what an autistic adult can make or own. This includes any money or assets that may be left to them by parents or grandparents in their will or trust.
That is why our Plano estate planning lawyers are passionate about making sure people know that even if they have the best intentions in mind for their child/ grandchild, they could actually be harming them by leaving an inheritance that causes the child to become ineligible for government benefits (including Medicaid, which may be the only health insurance option available).
The good news is that a Special Needs Trust can help with this. By putting your child’s future inheritance in a trust, he or she can enjoy the benefits of owning assets while maintaining their eligibility for government benefits. Special Needs Trusts can be very complicated and must be created properly by an experienced Special Needs Trust attorney here in Plano to ensure it works as the family intends.
If you have a child who falls within the autism spectrum and need help sorting through all of your options, call our Plano estate planning lawyers today at (214) 292-4225 and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We can help you make sure your child’s financial future is secure while maintaining the benefits they need.