Raising children is never an easy task, but the challenges can be overwhelming for families with special needs children. In addition to the emotional toll, the financial burden of raising a child with special needs can be significant. Shockingly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six children in the United States has a developmental disability, making it all the more critical to manage finances effectively.
The expenses associated with special needs children can quickly add up, from medical bills to specialized equipment and care. These costs can lead to financial strain for families, putting them at risk of debt and even bankruptcy. To manage these expenses, families need to adopt proactive financial management strategies.
Below, we will discuss money management tips for families with special needs children.
1. Set Up a Special Needs Trust
Setting up a special needs trust is crucial for parents having a child with special needs. A trust fund is a legal arrangement that ensures that any assets you save are used for your child’s needs. As parents, you have control over how the money is used, which provides a sense of security for the future.
Moreover, the money in this trust fund stays secure and does not interfere with your child’s eligibility for federal benefits such as the SSI. It’s wise to establish this trust fund, even if you don’t put money into it right away. Begin your research today and take the first step toward setting up a special needs trust for your child.
2. Understand Government Benefits
The government has several programs in place to help families with special children. Parents must know about all these programs to take advantage of them. These programs can significantly lower the financial burden on struggling families.
Supplemental Security Income: This program by the social services administration provides monthly aid to families with special children. The eligibility depends on factors such as income and type of disability.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: This program provides financial aid to low-income families. While this program is not specific to special children families, data shows that disabled people greatly benefit from it.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program: This health program — funded by the state and federal governments – provides health coverage for children. Special children can benefit from this program as well.
These are just some of the many resources available.
3. Create a budget
Creating a budget is essential to manage finances effectively for families with special needs. Begin by identifying all sources of income and family expenses, including those specific to your special needs child. Allocate a specific amount of money to each expense while accounting for unexpected expenses that may arise.
You can take help from budgeting tools like spreadsheets and budgeting apps to keep track of your budget and make adjustments as necessary. Review your budget regularly to ensure you’re staying within your financial means.
Additionally, look for areas where you can cut costs, such as buying generic prescription medication or purchasing second-hand equipment.
4. Consider an ABLE account
An ABLE account is a valuable tool for individuals with disabilities and their families to save for their long-term financial needs while minimizing tax implications. These accounts offer tax advantages because you contribute with after-tax dollars, and the account balance grows tax-free.
You can use the funds for qualified disability expenses like healthcare, education, housing, and transportation. ABLE accounts enable you to accumulate funds without jeopardizing your eligibility for government benefits. It’s crucial to follow IRS guidelines for contribution limits and ensure that expenses qualify as disability expenses.
An ABLE account is an excellent way to invest in the future of a loved one with special needs while providing them with the resources they need to thrive. Consult a financial advisor to determine if an ABLE account is viable for your unique financial situation as a family with special needs.
5. Seek guidance from support groups
Support groups can be a valuable resource for families with special needs regarding money management. Meeting other families who share similar experiences can be emotionally and practically helpful. Online parent groups can provide important information and support, including financial management advice. By sharing their experiences, other families can offer insight into strategies and tools they have used to budget, save, and invest for the future. It can help families with special needs feel less isolated and more empowered to take control of their financial situation. Joining a support group can also help families learn about additional resources available in their community.
6. Hire a financial advisor
Collaborating with a financial advisor with expertise in special needs planning can offer invaluable assistance to families with special needs. These advisors can help create an extensive financial plan that caters to the family’s distinctive needs. Additionally, they can guide you in establishing a budget that encompasses special needs expenses, educate you on government benefit programs, and recommend tax-advantaged savings accounts. They can also help with the following:
Counsel on creating a special needs trust
Ensuring adequate insurance coverage
Organizing and updating financial and legal documents
A financial advisor who is well-versed in the complex financial requirements of families with special needs can aid in planning for the future care of loved ones with special needs. They can help you manage your finances confidently and secure a stable financial future for your family.
7. Keep an emergency fund
As a family with special needs, preparing for unexpected expenses or emergencies is important. Such expenses could include sudden medical bills or unexpected repairs to assistive equipment.
So, to plan for these unforeseen circumstances, it’s critical to establish an emergency fund that can be easily accessed when needed. This fund should be separate from your savings account and regularly reviewed to ensure it’s adequately funded.
Additionally, disability insurance or a credit line could provide valuable financial assistance in emergencies. By planning for unexpected expenses or emergencies, you can minimize the financial burden of unforeseen circumstances and ensure the long-term financial stability of your family.
Managing finances as a family with special needs children can be challenging, but proper planning and strategies can make it easier. Setting up a trust fund, understanding government benefits, creating a budget, utilizing savings tools, seeking support from groups, and hiring a financial advisor are some ways to manage finances effectively. Additionally, keeping an emergency fund is crucial to prepare for unexpected expenses or emergencies that may arise. By following these tips, families with special needs can secure a stable financial future and provide optimal care for their loved ones.