Funding for a Lifetime of Needs With Autism is Critical
Two new studies were released, one published in the Journal of JAMA Pediatrics and one by the federal government, at the end of 2018 that confirmed that one in 40 children ages three to 17 are diagnosed with autism. This prevalence has increased from one in 150 children in 18 short years.
As with many diagnoses, families begin to explore ways to help offset the cost of lifetime support needs, and one of those ways is to rely on government benefits. Government benefits have been a staple for most families with a child with autism, especially as they become adults. These benefits can provide monthly income, health care, transportation, housing assistance, employment support, daily living support, and more.
Unfortunately, while the prevalence of autism is growing, the federal and state government benefit system that provides assistance to so many is beginning to show signs of fiscal crisis. The continued growth in our national debt and projection of that debt means the government continues to struggle to ensure the same level of benefits for those who need it.
In December 2018, with money running dry for a program that moves individuals with disabilities from institutions into the community (because community living has not only been shown to improve the lifestyle of the person with a diagnosis, but it has also been proven to cost less money), we are seeing this fiscal stress front and center. The Congressional Budget Office calculated the cost to run this one program for the next two years is $882 million, and this is just one program that helps individuals with a diagnosis live as independently as possible within the community.
As we foresee these two runaway freight trains (higher prevalence of those who will need support, and the fiscal stress of government programs that help provide it) seemingly on a collision course, it is becoming even more apparent and quite critical that families do as much as they can on their own to build a proper support structure for their child.
“We are seeing more and more families concerned about the future of their child and at the same time feeling the added stress of not having a great understanding for the amount of help they will really receive from the government in providing for the support their child needs to live as independently as possible,” states Andrew Spafford, Chartered Special Needs Consultant. Mr. Spafford continues, “This is why parents feel so much more at peace when they have a plan because then their understanding is more complete.”
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It is difficult to foresee government benefits vanishing from the lives of those with a diagnosis due to the need for help that these benefits provide, and the industry of service of providers that have been built over the years to provide this necessary support; however, it is clear that those benefits will change, and families need to know how those changes will impact their children, and how their family plan needs to be adjusted to account for those changes.
For more information on how to prepare for the future, be sure to contact a financial advisor who specializes in serving families with special needs. A Special Needs Plan is driven by their purpose of leading families to independence through an on-going multi-generational plan. A Special Needs Plan is passionate about families confidently moving forward.
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Ryan F. Platt, MBA, ChFC, ChSNC, is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory, and financial planning through MML Investors Services, LLC, member of SIPC. A Special Needs Plan is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC, or its affiliated companies. This article is not a recommendation or an endorsement of any products.
This article was featured in Issue 86 – Working Toward a Healthy Life with ASD