Government Grants for Children With Autism

by Randi Hicks Rowe
There are programs to help families raise children with autism spectrum disorder.

Raising a child with autism spectrum disorder can be a joyous but challenging journey, especially financially. In addition to having the same needs for food, clothes, shelter and school supplies as off-spectrum children, they also often require behavioral intervention therapies, frequent doctor visits and medicines. State and federal government money exists to help families meet these needs.

Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Waiver

Medicaid home and community-based services waivers are available in many states. Waivers are programs that allow individuals to remain in their homes or communities and receive services, rather than having to enter an institution. These grants can be used to help fund a variety of services for individuals with developmental disabilities. These services could include nursing care, minor home modifications, counseling and therapies and supervised living. Some states, such as Maryland, Indiana and Nebraska, provide autism-specific waivers.

Social Security Income

Social Security income is available to children younger than 18 who have a physical or mental disability that severely limits function and is expected to last more than a year, depending upon the family's resources and income. Not all family income is counted in determining eligibility, and maximum income varies depending upon the number of ineligible children, parents in the home and whether the income is earned. For example, a disabled child with two siblings living in a two-parent household would be eligible for at least some SSI as long as his parents earned less than $4,389 a month in 2013. A disabled child with three siblings in a single-parent home would be eligible for some SSI as long as the parent earned less than $4,033 a month.

Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability Insurance is a federal-government program for individuals who have a disability that began before age 22. This is paid based on a parent's Social Security earnings record and is available if a parent either is already receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits, or has worked in the system long enough. The office in each state determines disability based on how the autism spectrum disorder affects the child's daily life and work capabilities.

How to Apply

Apply for Medicaid home and community-based services waivers through your state's Medicaid office. Because they are state-specific, names of these grants may differ slightly, such as personal services money or home services money. Applications for SSI or SSDI are made through your local Social Security office or online at the agency's website. Because disability must be determined, application processing often requires several months.

About the Author

Randi Hicks Rowe is a former journalist, public relations professional and executive in a Fortune 500 company, and currently a formation minister in the Episcopal Church. She has been published in Security Management, American Indian Report and Tech Republic.She has a bachelor's in communications, a master of arts in Christian education and a master of business administration.

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