Most of us need help paying for our children’s health care needs. Public programs, health insurance, and private foundations can help cover some assistive technology, therapies, respite care, transportation, home modifications, doctor's visits, prescriptions, job training, and education.
Getting financial help from these programs and organizations will often, but not always, depend on your income. Many of them also have interest (or waiting) lists, and it will take time for you to get the funding or benefits. However, some will approve your family quicker. It is definitely worth looking into – and maybe applying for – a number of programs that might be of help to your child and family.
A small number of children with disabilities or special health care needs are able to get monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments from the Social Security Administration. SSDI is for someone who has worked and paid Social Security taxes or for a child whose parent has retired and has been collecting Social Security benefits for at least 24 months. Someone who has never worked can get SSI if they meet income and disability requirements. Both programs give you a limited amount of money to help pay for your child’s daily living expenses. If your child is getting SSI or SSDI, they can use Medicaid or Medicare for their health insurance.
When a child is 17 years old or younger, the Social Security Administration will look at the parents’ income and child’s disability to see if the child can get SSI. Once a child turns 18 years old, these benefits will be based only on the young adult’s income and disability.
Medicaid offers certain waiver programs to help children with disabilities or special health care needs. Waivers cover many services, including respite care, attendant care, nursing care, therapies, education, home modifications, assistive technology, and much more.
These waiver programs only consider your child’s income, no matter how old your child is. That means many children who would not be able to get Medicaid because their family’s income is too high are able to get Medicaid services through a waiver program.
In Texas, waiver programs have long interest (or waiting) lists, and it might take many years for your child to get approved for a waiver. We recommend that you sign up early. Even if you hope your child will never need those services, it is very important that they be added to the interest list for any program(s) that might meet their needs. You can always say no to the services once your child moves to the top of the list.
To learn more about signing up for waiver programs, see our Waivers page.
Many federal and state benefit programs limit the amount of savings and property your child can have and still be approved to get benefits. See our page on wills and special needs trusts to see how to protect your child’s benefits – and still save money for their future.
In certain cases, some of the expenses related to taking care of your child lower the amount that you have to pay in federal income taxes. These expenses might include:
To learn more about how to take these deductions or tax credits on your income tax return, you can see the Pacer Center’s web page on taxes and benefits , go to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website, or talk to a professional tax advisor.
The IRS has the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to help families fill out their income tax forms for free. You can search to find a VITA program near you.
In addition to insurance and government programs, there are many different private organizations that help people pay for medical equipment and supplies, home modifications, assistive technology, therapies, medical expenses, transportation, and other needs. For a long list of these funding programs, see our Grants and Other Funding Sources page. You can also use the Benefits.gov Benefits Finder to find additional funding sources.
Even with health insurance coverage, prescription costs can add up quickly. Here are some suggestions to help you manage those costs.