April is National Autism Awareness Month, so we wanted to shed some light on the challenges of financial planning for parents who have Autistic children. We hope this overview clarifies some of the options available to you as your child grows, so that you can move forward with confidence for your family.
From Two Incomes to One
Sometimes, parents who have children with Autism decide to quit their jobs in order to stay home with the child. This obviously reduces the amount of household income, but it also eliminates the expense of daycare. However, one thing to keep in mind is that Autistic children often require therapy or other in-home services, which may or may not be covered under your health insurance plan. Studies by Psychiatry Online revealed that 36 percent of private health insurance plans completely exclude Autism-related expenses.
If you are considering leaving your job to stay at home, then be sure you look at all of the expenses first. The last thing you want is to be in a financial bind as you are working through the emotions of raising an Autistic child.
Special Educational Costs
For many parents, early intervention is key. Many districts develop what’s called an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to customize the child’s learning from beginning to end. However, you may need to fill the gaps with private services, and that may or may not be covered under federal programs. The IDEA Act ensures access to some educational services, but be sure you know what you’re responsible for outside of the program.
Planning for the Future
When you die, you’ll want to be sure your child is taken care of financially. This is one of the biggest challenges of financial planning when you have Autistic children. You must plan for your own retirement, but that includes planning for your child as he or she graduates high school, potentially goes to college, becomes employed, and perhaps lives on their own.
For many parents, this involves setting up a special needs trust, or supplemental trust. Instead of leaving assets directly to your child, you leave it to the trust. This way, they don’t lose out on the benefits of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. When you have a trust, you assign a trustee who will be in charge of spending money on the child’s behalf.
If you want to to plan for the impact of Autism on your finances, then be sure to speak with a financial planner as well as an attorney. You’ll want to know the best strategy for taking care of your child – and yourselves – as you grow older.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Guidant Wealth Advisors and LPL Financial do not provide legal advice or services.