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Can my child with autism work and still receive benefits?

Many adults with disabilities enjoy holding down jobs. Work is an opportunity for them to socialize and to make meaningful contributions to the community. It can also enhance their self-confidence. You think that your adult child with autism could benefit from work and is capable of performing well in a few positions.

However, there is the issue of government benefits such as SSI and Medicaid. Can your child work and still get help?

In many cases, yes

There are asset and income guidelines for programs such as SSI. You and your child will have to be mindful of them in the search for employment. For instance, the first $20 of income each month usually does not count, and income diverted to a Plan for Self-Support does not count. Similarly, students under age 22 may be able to earn income up to $1,820 per month.

However, it can be discouraging to see that half of the income for a month over $65 may count against an income limit. A lawyer can help clarify your options and help you figure out the math. Ideally, the money your child "loses" from SSI would be equaled by the income made through a job. Alternatively, if your child gives you the money he or she earns so you can pay for your child's clothes, medical bills and cellphone bill, that income could be exempt.

If it turns out that having a paying job is not financially wise, you could help your child explore volunteer opportunities. You could also look for irregular jobs that pay small amounts of income since these generally do not count against SSI limits.

Another thing to look at is the possibility of loaning money to your child. These loans do not count as an income strike against SSI, and you could give your child work to do around the house or around town to pay off the loans (for example, helping you and a group of others to pick up litter). 

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