According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism is a developmental disability. The condition isn’t a learning disability, but patients still require educational support.

This article highlights autism’s main debilitating symptoms, the government benefits that officially-diagnosed children and adults may obtain, and what they could do if they don’t qualify.

Signs & Symptoms of Autism

Autistic patients typically experience debilitating signs and symptoms. This causes them to grapple with completing day-to-day tasks, including at school or their job.

To illustrate, here is a breakdown of the signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and how they make the condition an emotional disability:

  • They don’t know how to express themselves when they’re upset. For example, a child with ASD may pull their hair or yell when they’re hungry.
  • Autistic patients go through cycles of rage and anger that they can’t control.
  • Plenty of adults and children with ASD also struggle with social anxiety.
  • Autistic patients are likely to get diagnosed with a psychological or mental illness, most commonly depression.

In the same vein, autism impacts an individual’s communication skills in the following ways:

  • Their heightened anxiety prevents them from having the courage to share their thoughts in group settings or participate in conversations.
  • Patients could yell or throw objects because they don’t know how to communicate that they’re frustrated or upset, which can damage important belongings at home and create an uncomfortable environment at school or work.
  • Some people with autism experience difficulties when they want to start a conversation, share what they have with others, or ask for an item or favor.

With that in mind, an autistic patient’s social disability may manifest itself through the following signs:

  • The individual with ASD prefers to play or get involved in an activity by themselves.
  • They might flap their hands, pull their hair, pace back and forth, and/or behave in similar ways in order to stimulate their brains. However, many would consider this as unusual, and this limits an autistic patient’s ability to interact in social settings.
  • Autistic people are typically sensitive to food, bright lights, and loud noises, which is a barrier that potentially stops them from eating in public and attending large social gatherings or events.

It goes without saying that if you are concerned about a loved one who is showing any of these emotional, social, or communication-related symptoms, you need to ensure that they receive a medical evaluation.

Diagnosing Autism

Initially, you want to take your loved one to their primary care provider. From there, the doctor may refer you to other medical professionals who will evaluate the patient and conduct tests.

If they diagnose them with ASD, they should start looking at their treatment options as soon as possible. This gives you and your loved one enough time to make financial arrangements.

Keep in mind that autism treatment plans are expensive, and there are various programs that might help you pay for them.

Can someone with autism receive government benefits?

Yes, they certainly can. Here are the main disability benefits programs and what they entail:

Social Security Disability Income

This program is for adults who had to leave their work due to a disability. More specifically, former employees who had a job that was covered by Social Security are eligible for these benefits.

The disability must make it impossible for a person to sit, stand, or walk for long periods, or fulfill similar job-related tasks.

Social Security defines a “disability” as a condition that will either continue for over 12 months or lead the patient to die.

If you or your loved one had a job that wasn’t covered by Social Security or never worked in the past, there are other programs that you might qualify for.

Supplemental Social Security Income

A person is eligible for Supplement Social Security Income benefits if their condition meets their definition of a “disability” and they have a “limited income” and “limited resources”.

First of all, a “disability” is defined in the same way as it is under the Social Security Disability Income benefits, in addition to:

  • For Children: The disability causes “marked and severe functional limitations”.
  • For Adults: The disability “results in the inability to do any substantial gainful activity”.

Second, the applicant must prove that they have a “limited income” and “limited resources”. Social Security will count their earnings from employment, family or spousal support, and other sources as part of an applicant’s income.

The maximum income for SSI eligibility is $860 and $1,200 per month for individuals and couples, respectively. When it comes to resources, applicants can’t have more than $2,000 and couples aren’t allowed to exceed $3,000.

Here are the resources that Social Security accounts for:

  • Cash
  • Money in the applicant’s bank account(s)
  • Their car
  • Land
  • Personal property that they could sell for cash, food, or housing
  • Any support that they receive from their spouse, parents, or parent’s spouse that goes over $2,000 (from one parent) or $3,000 (from two parents)

Meanwhile, Social Security doesn’t take the following resources (among others) into consideration when they approve or deny SSI applications:

  • The value of primary residences and homes (including the land)
  • Household items
  • Personal belongings
  • Resources used for work or business

Alongside Social Security benefits, you may want to enroll in Medicaid to cover the autism treatment program’s costs. Under the Medicaid eligibility rules, you need to earn less than 133% the Federal Poverty Line per year to qualify.

If your annual income exceeds that, you might be allowed to obtain a waiver.

People with Autism May Qualify for a Medicaid Waiver

With a Medicaid waiver, autistic patients can get Medicaid (or the equivalent state-level program) to cover the costs of at-home therapy services and other ASD treatments.

The available waivers and what they entail are different from state to state. So are the covered services and the eligibility requirements.

Therefore, when you want to apply for a waiver, you should check what the process looks like in your state. This includes which paperwork and documents you have to submit.

Katie Beckett Waiver

Many ASD patients struggle to attain a Medicaid waiver. In part, this is because you need to provide plenty of supporting documents. Additionally, those that do get approved have to endure long waiting lists until it’s their turn to receive their benefits.

As an alternative, the Katie Beckett Waiver brings home care to kids with serious disabilities (autism is one of them) in a quicker and more convenient manner.

In comparison to Medicaid waivers, states can issue an unlimited amount of Katie Beckett waivers, which eliminates waiting lists. As far as the monetary rules go, Katie Beckett waivers consider the patient’s direct income and assets (and they don’t account for their parents’ resources).

To qualify for this waiver, you must meet these requirements:

  • Be 18 years old or younger.
  • Have a disability that has to be treated in an institutional setting.
  • Showcase that at-home services would be cheaper than (or cost the same as) receiving treatment at an institution.
  • Live in one of the 24 states in which the waiver is available and fulfill state-level eligibility rules.

If you have an autistic child, family member, or friend who isn’t eligible for Medicaid, consider helping them apply for the Katie Beckett waiver so that they start addressing and minimizing their autism-induced emotional, social, and communicative disabilities.

Keep in mind that they need to be officially diagnosed with ASD by their doctor and/or a medical professional. After that, the patient may apply for Social Security and Medicaid benefits (and, of course, the necessary waivers).


If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.

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