Brace Yourself!

There's a lot of reading, vetting, and outreach to do to understand your financial as well as government benefits options. Feel free to also reference the Medical Support section of this site.


  • IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) is a federal law that requires schools to serve the educational needs of disabled students. Children with cerebral palsy are generally eligible for special education and treatment services provided by IDEA. Some of the benefits included under IDEA are Early intervention for children up to 36 months of age, transportation, and assistive technology to physical, occupational therapy and speech therapy, etc.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides monthly income for adults that are unable to work due to their disability. SSDI does not require the applicant to have a certain income amount in order to receive benefits.

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  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is reserved for low-income families and comes in the form of monthly checks for children and adults with serious disabilities such as cerebral palsy.

  • A special needs trust (SNT), a legal arrangement, and a fiduciary relationship allow a physically or mentally disabled or chronically ill person to receive income without reducing their eligibility for the public assistance disability benefits provided by Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Medicare, or Medicaid.

  • The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides health care coverage to children through both Medicaid and separate CHIP programs. CHIP gives low-cost healthcare coverage to families that exceed the income requirement for Medicaid. CHIP provides health insurance for free or at a low cost to children whose families fall in certain income brackets. Many families are considered mixed, which means that the children qualify for Medi-Cal or CHIP. Adults are insured through Covered California.

  • Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA), states may provide Medicaid coverage to children with severe disabilities younger than 19 who require a level of care that could be reasonably provided in a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or an intermediate care facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICF/IID), without using household income as an eligibility criterion.

  • Medicaid Waivers (MW) for people who have intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and autism.


  • California Medicaid is a federal health insurance program for families with limited income. Many families affected by cerebral palsy use Medicaid to help pay for medical expenses, housing, and assistive devices. Medi-Cal is California’s part of a national health coverage program called Medicaid. Each state runs its own Medicaid program. The states have to follow certain national Medicaid rules, but they have flexibility in how they run their programs.

  • Medi-Cal is a program that provides health insurance to Californians with low incomes, for free or for a low cost. The plans are from name-brand insurance companies.

  • The CalABLE account provides tax-free treatment on earnings and withdrawals to pay for disability-related expenses. Individuals with a disability that occurred before age 26 are eligible to open an account.