Financial Resources for Parents of Disabled Children.

For many parents, receiving a diagnosis for their baby not only brings emotional stress but financial turmoil as well. Hospital bills, multiple doctor visits, therapies, and nursing care can have a huge impact on a family’s finances. Even with insurance, there can be hefty deductibles to meet and battles to get authorization for necessary services.

Often, in a family where both parents are working, it may become necessary for one parent to quit their job in order to stay home with their child. Many times there are no available child care services for medically needy children available,  the family does not qualify for in-home nursing care, or the nursing agencies are short staffed, and no nurses may be available to them. With the loss of income, it can have a devastating effect on the family’s finances.

There are many programs that are designed to support families with financial difficulty or offer free support to help navigate the complex world of parenting a special needs child. These programs have certain criteria that need to be met before a child or family can qualify, and there is no guarantee of acceptance, but they are worth investigating for assistance if needed. Some of these programs pertain only to California

Medi-Cal and Medi-Cal Waivers: Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program. Medi-Cal waivers are programs under Medi-Cal that provide additional services to specific groups of individuals, limit services to specific geographic areas of the state, and provide medical coverage to individuals who may not otherwise be eligible under Medicaid rules.

For more information on available Medi-Cal waivers please visit: http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/Pages/Medi-CalWaiversList.aspx

In-Home Support Services:  Other states have similar programs, but California is the only state so far that will pay parents of minor children as providers. To qualify, a child must have an undeniable level of need and the organization requires documentation from a physician and/ or regional center. In a two-parent household, one parent must be working full time or be enrolled full time in an educational program for the other parent to be paid as a provider. The provider parent must be able to justify that he or she cannot maintain employment due to the needs of the child.

For more information visit: http://www.cdss.ca.gov/In-Home-Supportive-Services

Supplemental Security Income: Disabled children with qualifying conditions may be eligible for SSI payments. SSI is income based, and the child’s parents can not have assets worth over $3000 for a married couple or $2000 for a single parent. There are certain excludable assets (which are prone to change) such as a home which is the family’s primary residence, one car per household, and more which are listed on the SSA website.

For more information on the SSI program and qualifying criteria please visit: https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/

California Children’s Services: California Children’s Services (CCS) is a state program for children with certain diseases or health problems. Through this program, children up to 21 years old can get the health care and services they need. CCS will connect you with doctors and trained health care people who know how to care for your child with special health care needs.

For more information about CCS please visit: http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/ccs/Pages/default.aspx

ABLE accounts: Normally, SSI recipients are only allowed to have a certain amount of resources before their benefits are affected. Currently, it is $3000 for a married couple and $2000 for a single person. Setting up and ABLE account allows disabled individuals to save money without losing their benefits such as SNAP, SSI, or MediCal. The ABLE Act limits eligibility to individuals with significant disabilities with an age of onset of disability before turning 26 years of age. At this time, California does not have an ABLE account program, but accounts can be opened online in other states. Only one account per person may be opened at one time; an individual cannot open an account in multiple states.

For more information please visit:  https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2017-01-11/what-to-know-before-opening-an-able-account

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