3 Financial Tips For Parents Of Children With Disabilities

Nobody plans to have a child with disabilities, and even parents who would normally consider themselves very financially secure can wind up in trouble when a child's special medical needs come to light. Doctors, treatments, therapies, and medical equipment are all expensive, and very often at least one parent loses all or part of their income when they need more time to care for their child with special needs. If this is happening to your family, you should know that there is hope. Take a look at tips that can help you find the money that you need to get by now and even plan for your child's financial future.

Research Assistance Programs

The first thing that you need to learn is that you can't be afraid to ask for help. There are programs out there that exist to help with medical bills and other needs of children like yours, and if you qualify for them, you should take advantage of them. For example, your child may qualify for Medicaid – even if you do not qualify yourself, and even if you already have insurance. In cases like that, Medicaid can be used to help cover the things that your insurance doesn't, so your out of pocket costs don't get out of hand.

Depending on your child's condition and your income, your child may also qualify for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) disability benefits. This is different from SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) which is only available to adults that have worked long enough to accrue benefits. If your child's medical condition is one that's covered by SSI, the SSA (Social Security Administration) will consider your household income, in a process called deeming, to see if you qualify. However, not all of your income is considered. Certain types of income, like food stamps or tax refunds on property, are not considered. What's more, the SSA will allocate some of your income to your own living expenses and the care of any other children before deeming the income of your child with disability. Even if you think you won't qualify, it's worth a consultation with a disability lawyer to go over your finances and determine whether you might be eligible. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Think Creatively About Earning

There's a good chance that caring for your child with disabilities has resulted in a decreased income for your household. One survey shows that nearly 30% of parents of children with special needs have had to stop working or reduce their hours at work. A loss or reduction of income can be a severe blow to a dual income household, and it's even more difficult if you're a single parent.

You may need to think outside the box in order to earn an income while caring for your child. Fortunately, there are more opportunities to earn at home now than ever before. You may be able to arrange a work from home or flex time arrangement with your employer, or even work in your field as a freelancer or consultant, allowing you to set your own schedule. Even if you can't stay in your field, if you have an internet connection and a telephone, you can find a variety of ways to make money at home, ranging from customer service to sales to blogging to making and selling craft items. Don't underestimate your power to earn at least some money from home. Join work from home forums and support groups for parents of children with disabilities. You'll make connections, find leads, and receive support from people who understand what you're dealing with.

Plan Ahead

It can be difficult to think ahead when you're just trying to get by from day to day. But if your child will need ongoing care as an adult, you have to prepare for their financial future, and for what will happen if your child outlives you. One important thing that you should consider is whether or not you need a special needs trust.

Often parents or other relatives want to provide for an adult child with disabilities by leaving them money. However, leaving money to your child directly can disqualify them for disability benefits. A special needs trust is the solution to this problem. The money in the trust is used for purchasing things not provided by SSI benefits or Medicaid. You can add any type of asset – including real estate, a business, stocks, or even jewelry, in addition to cash – to the special needs trust, and a trustee that you name will be empowered to manage the money and assets, to liquidate tangible assets, and to make purchases for your child. A special needs trust cannot be used to purchase things that will make your child ineligible for their benefits.

It's important to explore all of your options for taking care of your child with disability, both now and in the future. A disability lawyer from a firm like Horn & Kelley, PC Attorneys at Law can help you successfully apply for the benefits that your child needs and help you protect those benefits.