Special Needs News

So far 2014 has been filled with a whirlwind of events and I have not had the time to write as much as I have wanted to. This is a season of change for us and has been filled with blessing upon blessing. I have spent the past five years in valleys and climbing mountain after mountain for Jake, but I have finally reached the peak. It feels good here; I hope I get to stay for a bit.

I will write more on what’s going on our land of apraxia, allergies, etc. in the coming weeks, but for now, I’d like to share a few important tidbits of news that are happening in the special needs community right now …

These times, they are a changing … I live in Georgia and for six years, Anna, a determined, passionate mama and her adorable daughter Ava have been trying to get an autism insurance reform bill passed. The law is known as Ava’s law and would require insurance companies to cover the many costs associated with therapies. In February, the Georgia Senate passed the bill and it will now move onto the House for approval. This bill will make Georgia the 35th state to approve autism insurance coverage and it will benefit 30,000 kids in my state who need it. Ava is now thriving and has been the poster child for autism insurance reform. She and her mama rock!!!

Tis the season for taxes. I have touched on this topic a time or two, but have never provided any details on what is and is not tax-deductible when it comes to special needs  expenses. This year I was going to try to take the medical expenses deduction and set out to add up all of Jake’s medical, therapy, and diet expenses for 2013. I also had to spend a little time with Google figuring out what the stipulations are. If you have not filed this deduction in the past, it is a great time to start a file for 2014.

The following is what I believe to be accurate based on the articles I read, but please do your own research. I am a lover of words, not numbers and tax talk.

  • Expenses must exceed 10 percent of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). All of your family’s medical expenses can be included. It used to be 7.5 percent, but it increased to 10 percent at the end of last year. Also, I am not 100 percent sure, but I think only the amount over 10 percent is deductible. In other words if your threshold requirement is $5,000 and your expenses were $5,500, only $500 can be deducted.
  • Therapy – All out-of-pocket expenses are deductible. I also liked that mileage to and from your therapist or doctor’s office could also be included.
  • Out of town intensive treatment – Transportation, $50/night of hotel stay, and all therapy expenses can be deducted.
  • Alternative medical treatment – Any out-of-pocket expenses for supplements, routine visits, acupuncture, etc.
  • Diet – There are many details regarding this deduction, but these were the highlights I took away:
  1.  Child has to have an allergy/intolerance and the diet has to be required.
  2. A doctor’s note verifying the diet requirement has to be included with your taxes.
  3. Organic fruits and vegetables cannot be included.
  4. The full amount of the food cannot be deducted. You count the difference between the cost of regular food vs. special food. In other words, if you buy a box of Enjoy Life Chocolate Chip Cookies at $4.25 and Chips Ahoy costs $2.25, you can count $2.00 towards your food deduction. In addition to saving receipts, you have to fill out a chart with every single food listed.

No child left behind? According to ABC News, the next court hearing in the Justina Pelletier case is coming up on March 17th. If you are not familiar with this story, Justina lives in Boston and has mitochondrial disease. Her parents lost temporary custody of her due to a difference in medical opinions. Fortunately, it looks like the tables are turning and hopefully they are going to get their daughter back to care for her as they see fit. It is a gut-wrenching story and one that needs backing by every parent in America.

An awesome apraxia giveaway … Last, Leslie Lindsay, author and blogger of “Speaking of Apraxia,” is offering a great giveaway this week. You have until Friday, March 15th at 5:00 p.m. to register for an “Apraxia Mom” necklace by Handmade Love Stories. Love this! Click here to register.

apraxia mom

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2 thoughts on “Special Needs News

  1. The awesome news about Anna’s progress with Ava’s law is inspiring! As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I am the very one who evaluates patients and informs parents that their child with Autism can benefit from therapy, but I’m also the one who receives denials from insurance carriers because Autism (along with other Developmental Delays) is not a covered benefit. It’s heartbreaking and frustrating, to say the least. Thanks also for sharing the informative tips about taxes!

  2. I’m grateful for Ava and her mama! I hope Ava’s law passes and we’ll be able to get more therapy for my son. In the fact sheet, it says it will cover pharmacy care as well. I wonder if it covers any of the bio med costs … wishful thinking?

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