THE FINANCIAL IMPACT OF PARENTING A CHILD ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM

This is obviously very taxing to the parents, most of whom need to quit their steady jobs in order to be a full-time carer to their autistic child, resulting in a huge loss of income. Those who need to work often request an accommodation from their place of employment or take other jobs that will give them a flexible enough schedule so they can meet their child’s needs.

For many parents of children with autism in Canada, leaving or requesting any accommodation from their job is simply part of the process. Although it would allow some of these parents to be with their child 24/7, or at least add some flexibility to their schedules, it doesn’t help that the costs of paying for autism-related services are steep.

What’s more, what works for some children doesn’t necessarily work for others – having to find the appropriate and adequate treatment is not only time-consuming and expensive, it is also very stressful.

For instance, one family can be paying $300 a month for three hours a week of behavioral intervention sessions, $2,000 for therapy team meetings and school meetings, in addition to private school tuition. Another family can be paying up to $10,000 a year for therapy sessions, as well as $135 a week for private therapy.

Because the majority of parents with autistic children are wait-listed for funding or treatment, they often must go to extreme measures to support their child, which includes spending lots of time and money on finding worthwhile programs. As the expenses keep piling on, significant debt is accrued, illustrating just how financially taxing autism continues to be on families.

HOW THE CHILD DISABILITY TAX CREDIT CAN RELIEVE FINANCIAL STRESS

Administered by the CRA, the child disability tax credit provides assistance to families who are responsible for children with disabilities. It is a supplemental amount to the Canada Child Benefit paid to claimants of the disability tax credit (DTC) for minors under 18 years of age but must be applied for by anyone parent who is taking primary care of that child.

In addition to that, the child disability benefit (CDB) will automatically apply if parents are eligible to receive DTC for their child under 18, which is under certain circumstances or situations. It is important to note that the CDB is separate from the child disability tax credit and is reliant on the fact that someone is receiving the disability tax credit.

Of course, the child disability tax credit will be calculated differently depending on the family or situation. Using the disability tax credit calculator would help determine the approximate amount of funding someone will receive if found eligible for DTC.

For instance, the family of a 7-year-old child with autism in Ontario may be eligible to receive a retroactive tax-refund of a little over $20,000, depending on the child’s date of birth and how long they’ve been dealing with the condition. This is because the CRA allows those who qualified for the DTC in the past to request adjustments for up to 10 years prior, as long as those credits were unclaimed.

Furthermore, those who qualify for the disability tax credit can further save for their long-term financial security with the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). This is a savings plan specific for people with disabilities, created to help them and their families.

SUMMARY

Caring for a child with autism is extremely overwhelming, both emotionally and financially. Families incur significant economic costs because developmental disabilities require expensive and adequate treatment, which only adds to the struggle of living with one.

In addition to the different forms of therapy, special schooling, intervention sessions, and other treatment can cost families with autistic children up to $20,000 per year, depending on the severity of the condition. The fact that most parents need to leave their jobs to become a full-time carer or downgrade their careers for a more flexible schedule – resulting in a significant loss of income – only makes the situation worse.

Fortunately, the Canadian government – both provincial and federal – provides programs to offset some of these costs, such as the child disability tax credit. Administered by the CRA, the purpose of this credit is to assist tax-paying Canadian families facing financial hardship due to a disability, as long as they are eligible, and allows them to experience some financial relief as a result.

This is a contributed post and may not represent the views and opinions of this blog or its author.

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Curtis G.

I had to leave my job to help care for our son and yes, it caused us to fall heavily into debt

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