Cost of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is one of the most common childhood neurological disorders and one of the most expensive. A 2011 article by CNN Money estimates the cost of raising the typical child from birth to 18 at $227,000. A study published in 2004 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the lifetime cost of raising a person with cerebral palsy at $921,000 beyond normal living costs.
At minimum, cerebral palsy costs at least $1.148 million to raise a child from birth to death. In reality, the cost is much higher because the figure does not include the typical costs for a person to live from age 18 to death. The study also did not include other expenses such as emergency room visits and lost wages resulting from caring for a person with cerebral palsy.
At first, this figure seems startling and very overwhelming. However, there are many forms of financial assistance to families affected by cerebral palsy. The assistance available to your family differs widely by state. In general, however, the following forms of assistance are available to every family affected by cerebral palsy:
Funded by the federal government, but run by each individual state, Medicaid provides assistance for medical costs to families and individuals with low incomes. Eligibility and services covered differ by state. Most Medicaid programs cover the following:
- Doctor appointments
- Dental visits
- Vision needs
- Hospital inpatient and outpatient services
- Laboratory and X-ray services
- Medicine, supplies and medical equipment such as wheelchairs
- Emergency ambulance transportation
- Clinic services
Medicare is a federally-run and federally-funded medical assistance program that helps people age 65 and over, and also those with certain disabilities (including cerebral palsy). Medicare does not cover as many services as Medicaid, and it also requires co-pays.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI is the more common benefit for people with cerebral palsy. In most states, as long as you have documented proof you or your child has cerebral palsy, you are eligible for SSI. The benefit is intended for those with little or no income and aims to provide the basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter.
Although the rules vary by state, in most cases you must have a low or non-existent monthly income and less than $2,000 in liquid assets.
As long as you are disabled before the age of 22, you qualify for SSDI. SSDI offers similar benefits to SSI, but the rules for qualifying are different.
There are many emerging treatments and therapies for cerebral palsy such as hyperbaric oxygen chambers, stem cell transfusions, and hippotherapy (horseback riding). While these treatments often receive funding in foreign nations, the United States does not provide funding for any of these treatments at any level.
However, there are many non-profit organizations willing to provide financial assistance to families in need. Contact your local department of social services to begin researching your available options.
Respite Care Grant
Depending on the state you live in, there may be respite care funds freely available to your family. You are typically allotted a certain amount of dollars, which you can use at any time throughout the year. Contact your local social services agency to if there is any such funding available to you.