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How To Financially Prepare for Children With Disabilities

If you have a child with disabilities, explore the different considerations that your family may face over the years.

In 2000, the U.S. Census revealed that over 20 million families had a family member with a physical or mental disability. That number has increased in the past 20 years, and each family requires ongoing, differential care for those members. Fortunately, medical advances have empowered families to take the necessary steps to provide that care as needed.

In many cases, there are opportunities for children with disabilities to transition into adulthood and successfully develop lifelong careers.

When those careers aren't enough or simply aren't available for your children, BECU Trust Services can help. To start, keep reading to learn more about your options and to plan ahead for your child's future.

Timeline of Important Dates

Each phase of life presents different opportunities and challenges. To help you gain a better perspective on what's involved at each point, take a look at each stage.

Early Childhood

From the moment a child is born, they depend on you to take care of them and provide the nutrition and education they need to grow. Children with disabilities are often diagnosed at this early stage, which can reveal that your child may need more care, attention and support. During this time, your child is likely to enter school and may have significant medical considerations that can require many additional expenses.

Teenage Years

As your child grows, you begin to gain a better idea of what the future may hold. Will the medical costs remain constant, or does your child's condition require additional support as they grow older? Depending on your situation, you may need to save more money. You will also need to explore what programs and assistance options are available to your family so that you can lean on those benefits as you provide for your child.

Eighteen Years Old

When your child turns 18, they are no longer a minor. This status change means that some doors will close, but others remain open. You may be able to receive additional support as you provide your child with the additional care they need during this important time of transition. Over the next few years, you will have to determine what occupational opportunities may be available to them, as well as the degree of care they'll require as an adult.

Twenty-two Years Old

The government closes access to many support programs at the age of 22, and you will need to prepare for this adjustment. If you've planned accordingly, the next few years are likely to be a time when you're relying more on the money that you've saved up and invested. It's also the time when you will begin planning for those years when you won't be able to personally care for your child as you advance in years. One complication to consider is that Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (needs-based government resources for families and people with disabilities with limited resources) may not be available for your child depending on your income or an inheritance. In that case, you must ensure that you have arranged for long-term health insurance to offset the common costs associated with managing a disability, particularly if that disability prevents your child from holding a job. One helpful tool to maneuver around this limitation and ensure your child remains eligible for Medicaid is to establish a Special Needs Trust. This trust employs a third party to administer your child's inheritance and assets for decades, allowing you to give them the assets they need without disqualifying them from essential assistance programs.

Early Adulthood Through Middle Age

As your child navigates adulthood, they'll continue to depend on the efforts and planning that you've prepared in previous decades. During this time, you must ensure that your assets are in line for your retirement and plan for the increased medical expenses that you may encounter over the next several decades.

Parents' Retirement and Death

When you leave the workforce, your finances are likely to be stretched to their maximum extent. If you aren't prepared for this transition, it can be an uncomfortable time as your family scrambles to make ends meet and ensure that everyone gets the care that they need, including your child with disabilities. You should be planning for this transition many years in advance, setting aside the resources that you need to build upon to provide for your child's adulthood and their eventual retirement.

At each stage, different opportunities are available to you depending on where you live and your financial status. Conversely, different disabilities involve higher costs and may mean greater challenges.

The time periods referenced in this article are generalized, so we encourage you to consult with your medical professional and developmental psychologists who can offer specific guidance for your situation.

The Resources Available To Help Your Family

You don't have to take this journey alone. BECU Trust Services can help you explore your options and connect you with the right professional to create a plan and establish a Special Needs Trust that will continue to look after your child even if you're no longer there to take care of them.

Contact Us

BECU Trust Services can help you create a plan and establish a Special Needs Trust to help ensure your child has a plan for the future. BECU Trust Services is here when you need us. Call 206-812-5176 or email becutrust@becu.org to connect with us today.

BECU Trust Services is a trade name used by Members® Trust Company under license from BECU. Trust services are provided by Members® Trust Company, a federal thrift regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Trust and investment products are not deposits of or guaranteed by the trust company, a credit union or credit union affiliate, are not insured or guaranteed by the NCUA, FDIC or any other governmental agency, and are subject to investment risks, including possible loss of the principal amount invested.

This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or tax advice regarding your situation. For legal or tax advice, please consult your attorney and/or accountant.