Family Members with Special Needs:
Things to Consider
There are more families dealing with special needs
issues than most people suspect. An estimated 15 to
20 percent of Americans have an impairment that makes
them permanently disabled, and the disability may put
financial and logistical stress on their families.
Due to medical advances, special needs children have
been able to survive illnesses and live with conditions
that usually were fatal in the past. As more premature
babies have been saved, the risk of those children having
disabilities has risen; and as more women give birth
later in life, the risk of genetic disorders in their
Families dealing with special needs issues have unique
financial challenges. Seventy to eighty percent of individuals
with disabilities of working age are unemployed. Of
those who do work, census reports indicate that the
median salary is $26,700. The federal government estimates
the cost of residential care (without medical needs)
at about $45,000 per year, stressing the importance
of creating an effective financial strategy early.
Parents planning for retirement need to save extra
to cover the long term expenses associated with a special
needs child. Sometimes, life insurance can play an important
role in filling the gap between what's needed to help
support a special needs family member, and family financial
resources available to fill that need.
The parents of a child with special needs should also
make sure that they have made other plans:
- Create estate planning documents that have the
right kind of trust language intended to maximize
help available to a special needs child. While
federal and state government agencies offer programs
to help those with special needs, access to those
programs is often limited to those who can demonstrate
financial need. Parents who make financial plans to
take care of disabled children in the event of the
parents' death consider creating a special needs
trust, designed to make inherited funds available
for support, but in a way that won't impair eligibility
for government benefits*.
- Create a written plan of care for others who
might unexpectedly be called on to act as caregivers.
Those responsible for the daily care of a special
needs family member should write instructions down.
Such instructions, referred to as a care plan or letter
of intent, are written information about the health
information of special needs family member.
A care plan might include
- A description of the special needs family member's
- A list of the family member's medications
- A list of known food and medication allergies
- Suggested schedule for visits to doctors and
- Medical emergency procedures
- A list of medical professionals, contact information
and insurance information
- Other relevant information about lifestyle
3. Connect to the right resources and support groups
to provide needed information and services at the proper
times. Families might need to be connected to local
respite or sitting services, attorneys, advocacy groups,
vocational trainers or health care providers.
* This information is not intended to be a substitute
for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We
suggest that you discuss your situation with a qualified
tax or legal advisor. This material was prepared for
use by LPL Financial advisors affiliated with Bay Financial
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.
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