There are programs that might help you pay for the things your child needs to get through the day. We know from experience that having a child with a disability or special health-care needs can cause financial stress on a family. There are costs for visits to specialists, therapy, medical equipment, assistive technology, modifying your home, and medications. And even with health insurance coverage, the cost of deductibles and co-payments can hit the family budget pretty hard.
Programs and Benefits for Children with Disabilities
In this section of our website, you can learn more about programs for children with disabilities that might be able to help you financially:
- Health insurance and health-care benefits or programs might come through your job, the government, or another plan you buy.
- Medicaid is a public program that provides medical services for people who meet certain income or disability requirements. This program can cover many things, including health-care costs, hospital expenses, transportation to a doctor’s visit, and much more.
- Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people who are age 65 or older or who have a disability or special health-care needs and have been receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
- Waivers are a gateway to services for many families. The income limits for waivers are only based on the income of the person with a disability or special health-care needs, regardless of their age. This means that a parent’s income level is not considered when applying for one of these programs. Even if you aren’t sure whether your child will use the services from a waiver, it might be a good idea to get on a waiting list for any program(s) that might meet your child’s needs, because it can take years to get into these programs.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) offers some cash help for living expenses. There are income limits and other disability-related requirements for this program.
- Some private organizations and foundations give grants and scholarships to help with medications, assistive technology, school, summer camp, or transportation to the doctor’s office. Learn more at our Financial Concerns page.
Some of the programs we talk about in this section will ask for your family’s income history, from your child’s birth to their 18th birthday. Starting at their 18th birthday, these programs only look at your child’s income. Waivers are different: They only consider your child’s income, no matter how old your child is.
Some services offered by waiver programs are:
- Case management to help your child with insurance, health care, and school.
- Nursing care for your child.
- Attendant care to watch your child while you work.
- Dental and dietary support so you can take your child to the dentist and get help with food and nutrition.
- Specialized therapies like occupational, physical, or speech therapy.
- Respite care for your child while you are taking care of yourself or other family members.
- Adaptive aids to help your child do things like speak, eat, or move more freely.
- Minor home modifications.
- Behavioral support from a therapist who can help your family.
Even if you aren’t sure whether your child will use the services from a waiver, it might be a good idea to get on a waiting list for any program(s) that might meet your child’s needs. It can take years to get into these programs, and both your child’s needs and the services that the waiver offers might change during that time. You can always turn down the services once your child moves to the top of the list, if they don’t need it. To learn how to sign up, see our Waivers page.