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Intellectual Disabilities

Additional Support Services: Financial Supports

Tammy Reynolds, B.A., C.E. Zupanick, Psy.D. & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

In the United States, there is a broad range of supportive services available for people with intellectual disabilities (ID, formerly mental retardation). The provision of these supportive services may seem rather costly. However, research has demonstrated these services cost less than institutional care. More importantly, recipients and their families strongly favor support over institutions.

moneyMost services discussed in this article are provided via governmental funding. Some supports services are federally funded under the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Waiver Program. The Social Securities Act also authorizes distribution of funds for support services. Some examples are supported housing, supported employment, and personal care. Without these supports, the service recipients would be institutionalized. Title II of the Social Security Act provides disability benefits for disabled people. However, the amount of compensation hovers at established poverty levels.

Each state determines income eligibility criteria for funded services. Some families may not qualify because their financial resources exceed eligibility criteria. However, these families may have private healthcare insurance that pays for some needed services. Funded programs typically undergo an approval process every few years. The programs must demonstrate the funded services are the most cost-effective alternative.

Private, not-for-profit programs also assist people with ID. These programs may receive some government funding via grants. Thus, although privately administered, they are also partially funded by the government. Some examples are Easter Seals, Goodwill Industries, and United Way.

State and federal taxes provide the money for government funding. Community support programs conserve taxpayer money by providing the most cost-effective services. Home and community-based service programs are less costly than large state institutions. More importantly, community support programs enable people with IDs to enjoy a quality of life that maximizes independent functioning and life satisfaction.

 

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