3 Programs Every Parent With An Autistic Child Should Know About

People with autism and their families often have a variety of additional expenses required to meet their unique needs. There are many agencies and programs designed to support families affected by autism. Some of these are available to all families who meet financial criteria, while others are specifically designed to support individuals with disabilities.

Here are three programs that you need to know about if you have an autistic child:

Program #1 - Special Needs Estate Planning Book

Mapping out the financial future of your child can seem like a daunting task, but having a plan in place can help ease your fears. Swier Law Firm's popular book - The 12 Essential Estate Planning Tips for Families With An Autistic Child™​ - was created to provide you with the information you need to develop that plan. 

Program #2 - State and Federal Disability Benefits

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (or SSI) is a monthly government payment through Social Security which is designed to support people who are aged (65 and older), blind, or disabled. Individuals with autism may be eligible to receive SSI to help support them financially.

Information on this and other programs can be found at www.ssa.gov. You can also review the following links which further explain the SSI program for children and adults with disabilities, family financial criteria, how to apply, and more.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance (or SSDI) is another financial benefit through Social Security. This payment is available for adults who have a disability that began prior to age 22. SSDI can be considered a “child’s” benefit because it is paid on a parent’s Social Security earnings record.

For a disabled adult to become entitled to this “child” benefit, one of his or her parents:

  • Must be receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits; or
  • Must have died and have worked enough to qualify for Social Security.

These benefits also are payable to an adult if he or she is disabled at age 18, and if they received dependent’s benefits on a parent’s Social Security earnings record prior to age 18. Disability determinations are usually made using the disability rules for adults. SSDI disabled adult “child” benefits continue as long as the individual remains disabled. Your child doesn’t need to have worked to get these benefits.

For more information on SSI and SSDI, see this booklet called Benefits for Children with Disabilities.

You can find many more SSDI resources and information here.

Program #3 - Medicaid Waivers

Most states have a program for individuals with developmental disabilities called a Medicaid Waiver (also known as 1915(c) Home and Community Based Services). A Medicaid Waiver is designed to provide support services and care to allow an individual to remain at home or in the community, rather than in an institution, nursing home, or hospital. The benefits provided by these waiver programs vary by state, but most generally provide coverage for medical treatments, respite care, transportation, in-home support, and more. In some states, children do not need to meet eligibility criteria for Medicaid in order to qualify for a waiver. However, just like insurance laws, waiver criteria and availability varies from state to state.

You should also note that waivers may have different names in your state. For example, the “Katie Beckett waiver” is one type that is available in a number of states. Others may have names such as “Autism waiver,” “Person Directed Support waiver,” “Developmental Disabilities waiver,” or “Individual and Family Support waiver.”

See the following links to learn more about waivers in your state: