Your Child Has Just Been Diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder- Now What?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that significantly affects three areas: communication (verbal and nonverbal), social interaction, and behavior. It is a spectrum disorder, meaning it affects each person in different ways and can range from very mild to severe.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), ASD affects 1 in 88 children, and 1 in 54 boys. Hundreds of families are receiving news of an autism diagnosis every day. More than $13 billion a year is spent to care for individuals with ASD.  For the average affected family, this translates to $30K per year. 

Receiving news about any difficult diagnosis is difficult. A thousand questions race through the mind: What does it mean to have a child with autism? What will the future hold? If something happens to me, who will be there for my child and how can I ensure that his or her needs are met?

Many parents believe that needs-based programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid will be enough to take care of their family members with special needs when they are gone.  This is a common misconception. SSI is the federal needs-based program that many special needs children and adults may be eligible for if they meet certain income limits. Many special needs children and adults may also get Medicaid to pay for hospital stays, doctor bills, prescription drugs, and other health costs.  However, once the assets of a person with special needs exceeds $2,000, he or she is no longer eligible for SSI or Medicaid.  There are also severe and very strict limits on how much income a person can make and still remain eligible for SSI.

We here at The Fairfax and Fredericksburg Elder Law Firms of Evan H. Farr, P.C.,know that the majority of American families who have a loved one with special needs require a Special Needs Trust.  These families typically have very little in tangible assets, second mortgages on their homes, and little to no savings (likely due to paying for the costly therapies).  A Special Needs Trust is a vehicle that provides assets from which a disabled person can maintain his or her quality of life, while still remaining eligible for needs-based programs that will cover basic health and living expenses. If you have a loved one with special needs, call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a consultation.
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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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