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Twenty Questions: About Special Needs Financial Planning

Twenty questions is the latest in a run of series on The Foorce this week. While the Monday Minute and Top Ten series were born from reader popularity, Twenty Questions is being created from the growing number of emails in my inbox that contain questions about everything from respite recommendations to medication preference to which sport is best for ADD.

As you know by now I am happy to offer my opinion on a variety of topics, and am more than willing to share our experiences with James. However, I am uncomfortable offering my opinion as “the right answer” or on subject matter that requires special training (like an MD!). So, starting today, the first Friday of every month will be devoted to a new topic. I will collect any questions you might have about the listed subject and send them on to a real expert, then post my findings at the end of the month.

November’s topic is Special Needs Financial Planning, because let’s face it, special needs kids are expensive. To make matters harder, their expenses only grow with their age and many special needs children will never be financially independent. The article below illustrates why it is so important to be knowledgeable in this area, though many of us special needs caregivers are not, myself included.

Taken from http://www.forbes.com:

Many parents with physically, emotionally or developmentally disabled children have not secured the child’s financial future, a survey conducted for MetLife found. 

60% of parents don’t expect their child with special needs to be financially independent, but 68% of parents haven’t written a will, and 29% have done nothing to plan for the child’s financial future. 

Parents are aware of the need to make plans, but 66% say there is little financial planning information available that focuses on children with special needs. Surprisingly, 85% of parents turn to their doctor for financial advice. 

“It’s not surprising that parents have little time to focus on the future,” says Nadine Vogel, MetLife’s vice president and founder of MetDESK, the company’s division of estate planning for special needs children, and mother of two daughters who require special attention. “But if they don’t, the consequences can be life altering…It’s not about lifetime care, but about quality of life.” 

MetLife’s (nyse: MET – news – people )survey, “The Torn Security Blanket: Children with Special Needs and the Planning Gap,” questioned 1,718 parents of children with special needs. The survey, conduced by NOP World, has a plus or minus 2% margin of error at a 95% confidence level. 

The U.S. Census Bureau says about 10% of Americans between the ages of 16 and 64 suffer some form of physical, mental or emotional impairment. Many of them are outliving their parents thanks to improved care medical technology. 

Parents should take basic steps to preserve eligibility for government benefits. They need to ensure that the child’s assets don’t exceed the $2,000 federal limit, which would make the child ineligible for some government benefits. Funds above this amount could be placed in a special trust. 

The MetLife survey found: 

    • 88% of parents who have children with special needs haven’t set up a trust to preserve eligibility for benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Social Security.
    • 84% haven’t written a letter of intent outlining an agreement for the future care of the child.
    • 72% haven’t named a trustee to handle the child’s finances.
  • 53% haven’t identified a guardian for their child.

The survey found that 32% of parents spend more than 40 hours per week with their special-needs child, or time equal to a second full-time job. 

Parents spend an average of $326 per month, or just under $4,000 per year, on out-of-pocket medical expenses on their special-needs children.

Read the full report at http://www.metlife.com. 


Okay, so I’m scared now. And looking forward to hearing from someone who can offer information, expertise and direction.  Don’t be shy – please leave your questions about special needs financial planning in the comments section (anonymous questions are fine!) or you can email me at msearfoorce@gmail.com.



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