Reliable, trustworthy information about special needs planning topics can be hard to find — but we’re here to guide you in the right direction. Use the following trusted planning resources for additional support in creating the quality of life your loved one with special needs deserves.
Center for Parent Information and Resources
The Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) (opens new window) is a helpful caregiver and parental resource providing information on education, employment, housing, accommodations, local advocacy groups and events.
Find your parent center (opens new window) There are nearly 100 Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs) in the US and Territories.
Dial 211 for Essential Community Services
In many states, dialing “211” (opens new window) provides individuals and families in need with a shortcut through what can be a bewildering maze of health and human service agency phone numbers. By simply dialing 211, those in need of assistance can be referred, and sometimes connected, to appropriate agencies and community organizations.
ILRU Directory of Centers for Independent Living and Associations
The IRLU Directory of Centers for Independent Living and Associations (opens new window) is a consumer‑controlled, community‑based, cross‑disability, nonresidential private nonprofit agency that is designed and operated within a local community by individuals with disabilities and provides an array of independent living services.
Financial & Legal Support
ABLE National Resource Center
The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) (opens new window) is a collaborative whose supporters share the goal of accelerating the design and availability of ABLE accounts for the benefit of individuals with disabilities and their families. They bring together the investment, support and resources of the country’s largest and most influential national disability organizations.
Academy of Special Needs Planners
The Academy of Special Needs Planners (ASNP) (opens new window) is comprised of special needs planning professionals, such as attorneys, trust officers and financial planners who are focused on providing the highest quality of service and advice to people with special needs and to their families. The ASNP provides its member planning professionals with access to the latest information on legal developments and a venue for exchanging best practices in providing services to people with disabilities.
National Disability Institute
The National Disability Institute (NDI) (opens new window) is focused on driving social impact to create a better economic future for people with disabilities and their families. This organization offers a long list of financial resources, including tax preparation, benefits planning and more.
Special Needs Alliance
The Special Needs Alliance (SNA) (opens new window) is a national organization comprised of attorneys dedicated to the practice of disability and public benefits law. The SNA can advise parents and caregivers on special education, guardianships, establishing special needs trust and a long list of other related subjects.
Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS)
The Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) serves as the focal point for all national program policies and operations related to:
Medicaid (opens new window) provides a variety of benefits including health and long term care to millions of Americans, including eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities.
Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) (opens new window) provides comprehensive health benefits to children. States have flexibility to design their own program within federal guidelines, so benefits vary by state and by the type of CHIP program.
Basic Health Program (BHP)
The Basic Health Program (BHP) (opens new window) is a health benefits coverage program for low-income residents who would otherwise be eligible to purchase coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
The Medicare.gov website (opens new window) includes information about whether you're eligible for Medicare and whether you get Medicare automatically. It also includes your Medicare coverage choices and how Medicare works with other insurance.
National Council on Disability
The National Council on Disability (NCD) (opens new window) is an independent federal agency tasked with advising the President, Congress as well as other agencies regarding programs, policies, procedures and practices that affect people with special needs and disabilities.
Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program
The Housing Choice Voucher Program (opens new window) is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) (opens new window) is an independent agency of the U.S. government that administers multiple social insurance programs, including:
Social Security Disability Insurance Program
The Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) (opens new window) program pays benefits to you and certain family members if you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.
Supplemental Security Income Program
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (opens new window) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources.
Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool
The Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST) (opens new window) helps you find out if you could get benefits that Social Security administers. Based on your answers to questions, this tool will list benefits for which you might be eligible and tell you more information about how to qualify and apply.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (opens new window) offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
The TANF program (opens new window), which is time limited, assists families with children when the parents or other responsible relatives cannot provide for the family's basic needs.
U.S. Department of Education Section 504
Section 504 (opens new window) is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. Section 504 provides: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . ."
U.S. Department of Education Guide to the Individualized Education Program
Each public school child who receives special education and related services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) (opens new window). Each IEP must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document. The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability.
Veteran’s Disability Benefits
The Veteran’s Disability Benefits website (opens new window) provides information about types of benefits available to some veterans with disabilities. These include compensation, pensions, and grants for veterans with certain service-connected disabilities as well as pensions for some veterans 65 and older and grants for vets with age-related disabilities.
Social and Human Services Nonprofit Organizations
The Alzheimer’s Association (opens new window) is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research. Their mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.
American Council of the Blind
The American Council of the Blind (opens new window) shapes policies that affect people who are blind.
The Arc (opens new window) is an advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, Down syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and a range of other special needs. In addition to providing support and services, the Arc offers workplace inclusion programs, pooled special needs trusts and reliable information on ABLE accounts.
The Autism Society of America (opens new window) has been improving the lives of those affected by autism for more than 50 years. As the national’s leading grassroots autism organization, they work to increase public awareness on the day-to-day issues of people across the spectrum, advocate for appropriate services for individuals of all ages and provide the latest information on research, education, treatment and advocacy.
Autism Speaks (opens new window) is dedicated to promoting solutions — throughout the lifespan and across the spectrum —for individuals with autism and their families through support and advocacy; increasing acceptance and understanding of people with autism; and advancing research into better interventions and causes for autism and other conditions.
Brain Injury Association of America
The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) (opens new window) is the nation’s oldest and largest brain injury advocacy organization working to advance research, awareness, education and treatment to improve the quality of life of those impacted by brain injury.
Disability:IN (opens new window) is the leading nonprofit resource for business disability inclusion worldwide. Their network of more than 170 corporations expands opportunities for people with disabilities across enterprises. Their organization and 50 affiliates raise a collective voice of positive change for people with disabilities in business.
The Easter Seals (opens new window) have been helping people with special needs and disabilities as well as their families live better lives for over 90 years. This organization offers education, outreach, exceptional services and advocacy to help people living with autism and other disabilities best live, learn, work and play in communities.
The Lighthouse Guild (opens new window) provides resources and information for people with vision loss.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) (opens new window) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization with 1000 affiliates across the country.
National Association of the Deaf
The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) (opens new window) is a leading civil rights organization for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS)
The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) (opens new window) is the leading human rights organization working to improve inclusion for all people with Down syndrome. This advocacy group is an excellent resource for new and expectant parents of a child with Down syndrome.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) (opens new window) conducts research and advocacy, and operates programs and services for people living with MS. Local and regional chapters operate in many locales.
United Spinal Association
The United Spinal Association works to improve the quality of life of all people living with a spinal cord injury or disease. United Spinal provides active-lifestyle information, peer support and advocacy, which empower individuals to achieve their highest potential in all facets of life. Find a chapter (opens new window) or support group (opens new window) near you.
Special Needs and Disability Media
The Disability Scoop (opens new window) is the premier source for developmental disability news.
Exceptional Parent Magazine
Exceptional Parent Magazine (opens new window) is an award-winning publication serving the special needs community.