Finance

Special Needs Families Represent a Vital Niche for Financial Planners

 

At least nine million American children less than 18 years of age have some sort of “special need” or disability, according to the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs.

Their care is not just expensive – it is astronomical.

The same survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates an average $3 million lifetime cost for caring for a special needs individual. Contrast that with a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture stating that raising a child (without special health care needs) from birth to 18 costs the average family $233,610 and it is easy to note the disparity for parents of special needs children. Worse yet, the DHHS survey documented that 61 percent of caregivers indicate they have incurred significant debt to meet those staggering costs.

Too many – at least one-third – say they are too consumed with making today’s ends meet to even begin to consider their own retirement nest egg and or how to provide for their disabled child in the future. They need help, but do not have the expertise or “free time” to search out answers to their special financial needs.

There exists a vast knowledge chasm between these special needs parents and the information and financial tools that, when properly launched, can bring solutions.

Nearly 60 percent of special needs caregivers indicate “too little” information is available regarding special needs financial planning. At least 55 percent say the information that is “available” is “too difficult” to obtain, according to the MetLife survey, “The Torn Security Blanket: Children with Special Needs and the Planning Gap.”
Juxtapose those statistics against the fact that not enough of today’s financial advisors are trained – or even willing – to help meet the complicated and deeply emotional needs associated with special needs financial planning.

Aside from the day-in, day-out grind of raising kids, special needs parents often face obstacles such as high deductibles on their health insurance – if they can even get their child qualified. There is an endless string of doctor and specialized therapy appointments their children attend, plus all the associated paperwork for each program.

Often, special needs parents are “under-employed” or not working due to the care needs of their child. The MetLife survey estimated that most special needs parents spend at least 32 hours more per week caring for their child than do parents of neurotypical children. Holding down a job with that sort of household demand is tough. Add in the social isolation most special needs families experience and it is understandable that working on finances can and will trigger emotions that are better dealt with at a psychiatrist office rather than at the financial planner.

“Nearly 60 million Americans have a disability, yet few financial services professionals are prepared to provide guidance that meets their unique needs,” according to the American College of Financial Services (ACFS) based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. “Most are not working with a financial advisor but would value one who specializes in families like theirs.”

Labelling special needs families as a “chronically underserved audience,” the college, which offers Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) certification in financial planning indicates, “there’s a tremendous opportunity for professionals who want to expand their business.”

To learn more about ChSNC certification through the American College of Financial Services, visit: Special Planning for Special Needs Individuals.

 

 

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