In this episode, Brynne Conroy of Femme Frugality shares her extensive knowledge on how to navigate the world of personal finances with an autistic child. She’ll cover how to help your child get the resources they need, how to budget, plan, and save for expenses associated with a special needs child, how to prepare your child to advocate for themselves when they enter adulthood, and some insight on how to support special needs children and their families.
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Brynne shared so much helpful information in this episode! We’ve summarized our top three takeaways to help you focus in on some of the most important pieces.
Even if you don’t believe you’ll qualify for programs such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or state and local programs, advocate for your child to get a proper diagnosis and apply as soon as possible.
Diagnoses can get harder to come by as kids get older, some programs require kids to have been diagnosed by a certain age and the waiting time to see the right doctors could be months.
If you don’t qualify for SSI, this is still the method through which the government will recognize your child as special needs, making it possible to apply for Medicaid and other programs. Medicaid can even act as a secondary insurance, to cover therapies and treatments your primary insurance doesn’t cover.
These medical costs add up and getting the help you’re eligible for can free up funds to prepare for your and your children’s future.
Download Brynne’s free Medicaid & Autistic Children: A State-By-State Guide for details on what benefits your child may be eligible for and learn how to apply.
ABLE accounts work like 529 plans, meaning that the contributions go in post-tax but the investments in the account grow tax free and are not taxable upon withdrawal.
But while you can only use a 529 plan for higher education, ABLE accounts can be used for living expenses, medical costs, and anything your child might need.
In addition, the first $100,000 in an ABLE account is excluded from the SSI income test and is also excluded from a number of other benefit asset tests in most states, like food stamps.
The sooner you can start saving in one of these accounts, the longer the power of compound growth has to do it’s work – creating more dollars for your child’s future care.
You can learn more about ABLE accounts from the National Resource Center.
Find local groups and advocacy organizations where you can find community and your child can interact with people of all ages living with their disability.
Ideally, advocacy groups should be run by those living with the disability, not by caretakers.
These are places where you can ask questions about the financial and other resources available to you and get support. You’ll also discover more about what programs and initiatives those communities are pushing for and how you can help create a better and more inclusive world for your child.
Community is important. You’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed or like you’re learning a new language – around treatment, IEPs, financial resources, and more. There are people to lean on and you can do this.
Brynne Conroy is the owner and creator of Femme Frugality and the author of The Feminist Financial Handbook, which has been called “revolutionary” and “a unicorn among finance books.” Her writing has been featured in respected print and online publications and focuses on disability, the toxic nature of the helper mindset, the financial impacts on women’s salaries and careers when they have a disabled child, forced poverty, asset tests, and ABLE accounts. Brynne also publishes an annually-updated guide for parents of Autistic children, walking them through Medicaid eligibility in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
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