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August 16, 2020

Financial Planning 101: Tips for Parents with a Special Needs Child

By: Sara Bailey

When you have a child with special needs, one of your first responsibilities as a parent is to prepare for their future. In many cases, this means providing them an education and tools tailored to their needs. It also requires careful financial planning. Even if your child is only days old, it is never too early to get into a position to provide for them no matter what their needs may be in the future.

Social Security

Fortunately, the government does have programs in place for disabled children. Nolo explains that there are a few different benefits they might qualify for. If they are low-income, they may qualify for SSI, or Supplemental Security Income. As an adult, they may be eligible for SSDI (Supplemental Security Disability Income) as well as Medicaid. Social Security is a complicated program, and most parents will stand a better chance at maximizing their child’s benefits by partnering with an attorney that specializes in disability claims. Even if you are able to get your child the maximum amount of assistance, depending on their needs, it may not be enough.

Are You Insured?

Like Social Security, life insurance is not always easy to understand. What you should know, however, is that there are many different types of policies, and they each serve a different purpose. Term life is a long-term but non-permanent insurance that pays the death benefit to your child or designated beneficiary. Premiums are typically inexpensive, and you get a lot of coverage for your money. The only drawback to a term life policy is that it can be canceled at the end of your term. A whole life policy cannot be canceled short of nonpayment but is more expensive, and your beneficiaries may not receive the full amount of your policy if you have borrowed against it.

Defining Future Goals

Although no one can see into the future, your planning efforts will be much easier if you know what your goals are for your child. If you want your son or daughter to live independently, you may need to buy them a home, for example. This includes finding them an affordable house, getting pre-approved for a mortgage, and choosing a real estate agent. If your child will need care when you are no longer able, will they receive it from a sibling or assisted living?  Keep in mind that, regardless of which option you choose, raising a child with special needs can cost over $1 million.

Getting Creative

When you have a child with a disability, you may have to get creative and persistent when it comes to paying for their care. One way to do this is by borrowing equipment, such as assistive technology devices, through exchange programs. You can also contact device manufacturers directly to ask about financial assistance, and utilize state and federal benefits for things like occupational and speech therapy.

You should also know that all public school systems are required to provide free and appropriate education that includes offering services specifically for children with special needs. If you need outside assistance, Genie Dawkins offers private coaching packages, including assisting you once you’ve worked with your child’s school to create an individual action plan for your child. 

By looking at alternative ways to pay for your child’s care, you can free up your income to pay for things like insurance and future housing.

Additional Resources

Unfortunately, even with all of the above, you may still find that you need additional resources for your child. Here are a couple to keep in mind:

  •    Understood, a site on how to advocate for your child’s education.

  •    NAFC, the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics offers an online search tool that can help you find a free clinic, depending on where you live.

  • Guide to Life Insurance for Parents of Children with Disabilities , provides information on how to use life insurance policies to ensure that your child is taken care of in your absence.

This is only a small sampling of ways to sort out your finances when life throws you an unexpected curveball. Depending on your child’s needs, your income, and where you live, there may be many other programs available that can help with your finances.

Image via Pexels

Image via Pexels

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