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I Am A Single Parent. Can I Get Disability Benefits for My Child Who Has Special Needs?

If you are a single parent who has a child with special needs like autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or another disability, every month is a struggle to pay the bills. Without support from the other parent, you’re on your own to manage the care of your child and work. It’s a huge responsibility, and even though you want to do the best you can for your child, as a single parent, you face circumstances that could cause you to burn out faster than families who share the day-to-day responsibilities and demands of special needs parenting. That’s why it’s so important to learn about the financial resources available to assist you.

In some cases, you can receive payments from county, state or federal agencies for being the caregiver of your child. You may also be eligible for other services, like food, housing and medical care.

One of the best programs for families raising children with disabilities is IHSS. In-Home Supportive Services is a program in California that provides funds to either hire a caregiver or for you to receive payment as the caregiver for your child.

It can help you financially to stay home and take care of your child with special needs—so you can go to all the doctor appointments and therapies, you personally can supervise the services, and you can monitor what your child receives.

What is In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS)?

This California government program provides financial support for in-home caretakers of children with developmental disabilities including autism. While a variety of benefits are available, the most important thing for families of children with special needs is “Protective Supervision.” When you are approved for Protective Supervision, you will receive an hourly wage to stay home and care for your child. This wage is exempt from federal income taxes.

Eligibility for IHSS

If you are a California resident and receive MediCal benefits, you may be eligible for IHSS. Eligibility is assessed with an evaluation regarding whether your child needs the services it provides to stay safely in your own home as an alternative to out-of-home placement.

IHSS Services

  • Protective Supervision: safeguard from injury for persons with mental impairments
  • Domestic: meal preparation, cleaning, laundry, and taking out the garbage
  • Transportation: driving to medical appointments and accompaniment
  • Personal Care/Non–Medical: bathing, feeding, and toileting
  • Paramedical Tasks: assistance with medications, bowel and bladder care, or catheter insertion

How Do You Apply for IHSS? 

You must complete an IHSS application. As part of the application process, there are many pieces of documentation that will need to be submitted accurately, such as a medical certification form and similar forms.

Once IHSS receives your application, a caseworker will be assigned to conduct a needs assessment. During the assessment, the caseworker will come to your home and ask you questions about your child’s physical and mental abilities in order to determine what he or she can and cannot do. Your living situation will also be evaluated. After the assessment, the IHSS caseworker will contact you and let you know if you have been approved or denied the service.

If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.

American Disability Association is dedicated to the wellbeing and protection of children with disabilities and actively provides support to enhance their quality of life. Whether you are dealing with federal or state benefits or struggling with a school district to get proper education for your child, we have the resources to help you. Many individuals and families managing a disability are not aware of the wide array of services available to them, or they do not know how to apply for these benefits in a way that is likely to succeed.

Contact us for help. Dial (877) 283-4807 or email us at [email protected]