As any parent knows, the minute those two pink lines show up on your pregnancy test, you’ll run right out and start throwing your money at every baby department you see. However, what you may not know is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the cost of raising a child from birth through adulthood is $240,000. That’s approximately $13,333 per year.
When a baby or child is diagnosed with a disability, that already shocking amount can go up by thousands of dollars each month. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have estimated that it costs $17,000 more per year to raise a child with autism.
The Expenses Involved – Cost to Raise a Disabled Child
The cost of a lifetime of care for a child with a severely debilitating condition like cerebral palsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or periventricular leukomalacia can exceed $1 million.
Personal injury attorneys who specialize in birth injuries see the emotional and financial devastation the families of disabled children face every day. Georgia Cerebral Palsy Lawyer states that families with a child who has a debilitating condition as the result of a brain or nerve injury can have expenses that go far beyond medical bills. These may include:
- The need for lifelong care
- Adaptive equipment
- Modifications to your house
- Modifications to your vehicle
- The cost of therapists
- The cost of special education
On top of these expenses, parents may need to cut back on their work hours or quit their jobs altogether to care for their child’s needs. When my child was diagnosed, I had to give up my career, and our expenses became so high that we ended up having to sell our cars.
How Parents Are Coping
If selling your cars and relying on public transportation seems drastic, consider the fact that some families have had to drain their retirement funds and take out second mortgages to pay for their child’s treatment. Some families are also relying on high-interest credit cards and home equity loans to pay for treatments.
With many disorders, early intervention is the key to improving the child’s chance of being able to live independently as adults and to reach their full potential. When it comes to disabled children, parents often can’t wait until they can save up money because the clock is ticking.
The dilemma many families of disabled kids face is that they have to risk losing everything or risk their child’s well-being. When your child is already suffering, that’s a gamble a lot of parents simply aren’t willing to take.
Many Families Are Affected
It is estimated that in the United States today, approximately 8% of children under the age of 15 have a disability. Of those, roughly half are considered to be severe. In many cases, a disabled child may be suffering from two or more conditions at the same time. There are also households with more than one disabled child.
The CDC estimates that 1 out of every 6 children in the U.S. has autism spectrum disorder. About 500,000 children under 18 in the country today have cerebral palsy. One or two of every 1,000 babies born will be diagnosed with Erb’s palsy. The numbers are truly staggering, and parents are overwhelmed.
If your family is included in these statistics, help may be available. There are many programs you can turn to for financial assistance. You may be able to get SSI for your child. You may also qualify for Medicaid or CHIP.
Ask your doctor and therapists for information about resources and search for more information online. There are many wonderful websites dedicated to resources for specific conditions.
Consider this: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising an average child to the age of 18 is roughly $240,000, which is certainly a lot of money. Autism Speaks estimates that the lifetime cost for an individual with autism and/or intellectual disability averages $1.4 -$2.4 million.