Budgeting for children with disability, autism or other additional needs: things to think about
If you’re raising a child with disability, autism or other additional needs, it’s likely to affect your family budget. The way it affects your budget will probably depend on how your child’s condition affects their daily life. For example, children with a disability that significantly affects their lives often have higher care costs.
At the same time as managing extra expenses, you or your partner (if you have one) might need to cut back on working hours or quit altogether to care for your child. It can be hard to make ends meet when you’re dealing with extra expenses and reduced income.
Here are some expenses that you might need to think about:
- a carer for your child so you can take a break
- modifications to your home or car
- medication, interventions, aids or assistive technology
- private paediatric or specialist services
- the gap between the cost of public health services and Medicare rebates
- home help to care for your child, help with housework or give you a break
- costs of travel to medical appointments or accessible parks and activities.
Information about financial support
You can get funding to help with many expenses.
You can get information about benefits by visiting Services Australia – People with disability or contacting your state or territory government department for disability.
Your local association for children with disability or a diagnosis-specific organisation can also give you information about funding and things like low-interest loans to buy equipment.
Tips for managing money when your child has a disability, autism or other additional needs
Looking carefully at your financial situation will put you in a good position to make sure you have enough money to cover your costs and avoid debt.
When you’re thinking about anything to do with money, keep in mind that budgets can really help. Start by keeping track of what you spend on different types of expenses for a few weeks – you might be surprised to see where your money is going.
It also helps to think about what is and isn’t essential spending for your family. If there’s any spare income after essentials, what do you most want to spend that money on? A savings plan can help you set aside money for unexpected expenses.
Making the system work for you
Some of your expenses might be tax deductible, depending on your individual circumstances. Talking to a tax agent or accountant could help. Knowing your entitlements and taking advantage of them means extra money in the bank.
If you have private health insurance, compare the benefits and entitlements of different funds. But check the rules for joining different funds and getting money for disability-related expenses.
Personal financial advice
Financial advice helps you make decisions about your money. Good advice from an experienced, well-informed financial advisor might help you save money and become more financially secure.
Generally, the only people legally allowed to give personal financial advice are people who work for, or represent, a financial advisory business that holds an Australian financial services (AFS) licence. Licensed advice covers superannuation, insurance, shares and managed funds, as well as many basic banking products.
An advisory business that gives personal advice must:
- give personal advice that suits you
- take legal responsibility for its staff and representatives
- act efficiently, honestly and fairly
- meet standards designed to protect you against something going wrong.
You could look into choosing a private financial adviser. Or you can use the Australian Government Financial Information Service, which is free and available to everyone.
Note that people who give advice about loans and real estate don’t need an AFS licence.
Planning for the future
At some stage, many families of children with disability wonder and worry about the future. As part of a personal financial plan, you might want to consider some of the following products to give yourself and your child extra security:
- life insurance
- a will specifically structured to meet the needs of your child with disability
- income, trauma or serious illness insurance policies
- Special Disability Trusts to plan for long-term care needs.