Birth defects are extremely common in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one out of 33 children, or approximately 3 percent of all children, are born with some type of physical or neurological defect.
Some of the most common birth defects in the U.S. include Down syndrome, spina bifida, heart conditions, and cleft palate. Many parents only find out about their child’s condition after they are born, and the anxiety of wondering what their baby’s life will be like is mixed with the fear of how they’ll afford to care for them properly.
Finding Financial Assistance
You should speak to the hospital social worker about any benefits programs they know of. The government offers many types of assistance programs to individuals and families in need, so explore your options there first. Federal disability is not enough to support a person’s life entirely, but it can make it easier to cover essentials and added expenses that arise from disabilities.
You may be able to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a type of disability benefit for disabled children. Recipients receive an average of $645 per month with a maximum of $771. Most states automatically qualify children who have been approved for SSI for Medicaid as well, which is free, state-funded healthcare.
There are monthly income limits for SSI eligibility; a single-parent household can earn no greater than $3,209, and a two-parent household can earn no greater than $ $3,981 per month. Unemployed households can earn no more than $1,582 and $1,968.
If your child’s birth defect was the result of medical malpractice or negligence, you should seek the consultation of a birth defect lawyer. Your family could be entitled to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. The lifelong cost of raising the child with disabilities would be considered as well as the emotional damages sustained by the family.
Special Needs Grants
Many organizations offer grants to special needs families that can help cover the medical and care costs associated with raising a child who has birth defects. Many of these grants include additional therapies that help a child develop the physical, social, and cognitive skills they need to succeed.
This list by the Kaufman Children’s Center is a good place to start searching for grants.
You may also consider setting up a GoFundMe page where friends, families and kind-hearted strangers can donate to your child’s cause. The medical bills can make general living expenses like housing and food difficult to meet, and many people have been able to receive a significant amount of assistance through GoFundMe campaigns. Sharing it on social media can help raise awareness and rally additional support.
Having a child with special needs and developmental disabilities is expensive, and finding ways to ease the financial strain can help alleviate some of the stress. It’s important to know that although this is a tough challenge, you should still take the time to celebrate the new life you have brought into the world. Becoming a parent is not any less significant because of your child’s deficits, and they are no less valuable because of their health conditions.
Author information: Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University and now writes articles about health, business, family, and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. You can follow her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.