menu toggle icon
Find Care:
Speech Therapy
Occupational Therapy
Physical Therapy
Read Expert Guides
What special needs families need to know about itemizing medical expenses on their taxes

Itemizing medical expenses: Everything autism families should know

Updated: January 28, 2024 · 5 Minute Read

Max Meyerhoff

Reviewed by:

Max Meyerhoff, Health Insurance Expert


  • Raising a special needs child usually comes with a lot of medical expenses. As long as your qualified medical expenses are more than 10% of your gross income, you’ll probably benefit from itemizing them on your taxes
  • Itemizing qualified medical expenses can save you money over taking the standard tax deduction.

Filing your taxes? If you have an autistic child, itemizing your deductions can save you money. Let’s learn more.


What is the threshold for when itemizing will save you money? 


If your out-of-pocket medical expenses are more than 10 percent of your gross income (income before taxes), itemizing will save you money on your federal taxes (instead of taking the standard deduction).


For example: If your family’s gross income is $80,000, you will save money if your medical expenses are more than $8,000. For state taxes, the standard deduction rate varies by state and can be as low as 2%. The lower the standard deduction rate, the higher the incentive to itemize.


What qualifies as a medical expense?


Almost anything related to paying for your child’s health care qualifies as a medical expense as long as it is:

  • Out-of-pocket expenses (not reimbursed by insurance or Medicaid)
  • Not paid for with pre-tax HSA/FSA funds


You can’t count items on the exclusion list, such as over-the-counter medicines, toothpaste/toiletries, nutritional supplements, teeth whitening, gym membership, and cosmetic surgery.



What are examples of qualified medical expenses?


While it’s not an exhaustive list, here are some examples of qualified medical expenses:

    • Out-of-pocket fees to doctors, dentists, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, other specialists
    • Copays for prescription drugs
    • Mileage to and from a clinic, therapy site, or doctor’s office
    • Travel and expenses (but not meals or lodging) to attend conferences about your child’s diagnosis
    • Lodging to obtain medical treatment
    • Special tutors
    • Home modification/changes to the structure of your home (such as installing equipment)
    • In-home caregivers
    • Diapers or pull-ups (if toilet training is delayed due to your child’s disability or a medical condition; insurance or a regional center may also be able to help pay for these)
    • Special education tuition (if the education is intended to overcome learning disabilities)