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Financial Advisors and Retirement Planners for Attorneys and Couples

Financial Planning Challenges For Children With Special Needs

By Darren Wurz


If you are the parent of a child with special needs, there are several unique challenges you are likely to face at one point or another—increased medical expenses, highly specialized care, and the need for extra support, just to name a few. To add to the stress of it all, you are burdened with worry about what will become of your child when you pass away. One way to lighten the load is to make sure the financial aspects of these needs are covered. So, how can you plan for these challenges and secure a sound financial future for your child? 


In this article, we list some steps you can take now in order to not only give yourself peace of mind that your child will be okay if something happens to you, but also to help give your child the best life imaginable while you’re still here with them.  

Look Into Government Assistance

Do you qualify for government assistance? While some qualifications vary by state, here are two programs we suggest you investigate. 

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal income supplement program that provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. (1) If your child meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of a disability, then they may qualify for assistance. While your child is under age 18, Social Security considers all household income when determining eligibility. Once your child turns 18, benefits are calculated on his or her income alone. (2)


Medicaid is federally funded, but it’s administered and operated by the State (which means eligibility may vary from state to state). In most cases, if your child qualifies for SSI, they’ll qualify for Medicaid too. Medicaid funds can be used for healthcare expenses, home health services, medical equipment, and more. 

Save For The Future

529 ABLE

Even with government assistance, you may still have ever-growing out-of-pocket costs as you care for your child. A 529 ABLE account helps fill in this gap. 


529 ABLE plans, which are similar to 529 college savings plans, can be used for qualified disability-related expenses in addition to education-related expenses. These expenses may include housing, transportation, employment training, healthcare, and anything else needed to maintain your child’s quality of life. 


As of 2019, you can make an after-tax contribution of up to $15,000 per year into an ABLE account. (3) The money is withdrawn tax-free for qualifying expenses. As long as the account balance is below $100,000, it doesn’t count toward calculating SSI eligibility. 

Special-Needs Trust

For most high-net-worth families, opening an ABLE account is the first step in securing their child’s future. The second step is establishing a special-needs trust. Assets placed in this type of trust don’t interfere with your child’s ability to receive government assistance (as long as all assets list the trust as the beneficiary, not the child). 


If your child is named the beneficiary of assets totaling more than $2,000, they’ll no longer qualify for government assistance. Keep this in mind as well-intentioned family members or friends leave assets to your child. They’ll need to list the trust as the beneficiary in order for your child to remain eligible for benefits. 

Prepare For The Worst

Letter Of Intent

You know your child better than anyone. If anything were to happen to you, you’d want your friends and family to be aware of all those personal details. A Letter of Intent does just that. While this document isn’t legally binding, it can include incredibly helpful information, such as: 


  • Your child’s daily, weekly, and monthly routine

  • Your child’s personal likes and dislikes

  • Your hopes and dreams for your child

  • Your child’s medical history 

  • Contact information for doctors

  • Any other pertinent information

Adult Guardianship

Once your child is 18, they’re legally an adult in the eyes of the law. If you foresee your child needing guardianship beyond the age of 18 (because they’re unable to make their own medical and financial decisions), speak with a professional about how you can become their legal guardian. This process may include creating a power of attorney or healthcare proxy in the event of an emergency.  

Your First Step

Being the parent of a special-needs child comes with profound challenges and extraordinary joys as you conquer the ups and downs together. As someone caring for a child with special needs, you deserve all the support you can get in every area, but especially in the area of finances. We at Wurz Financial Services are honored to have the opportunity to come alongside you and help navigate these complex financial issues by providing you with resources tailored to your unique situation. To get started, give us a call today at 859-291-9879 or email to schedule your no-obligation consultation. Together, let’s find out if we’re the right fit for your family as you move closer to financial security in this unique area of need. 


Also, join us for our next free webinar: Social Security 101: The 3 Rules To Maximize Your Lifetime Retirement Benefits! Register here today!

About Darren

Darren Wurz is a co-owner and financial planner at Wurz Financial Services, an independent, family-owned and operated financial services firm dedicated to helping its clients transition from their working life to a comfortable retirement with confidence. Darren received his master’s of science in financial planning from Golden Gate University and also holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) designation. He operates the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati office of Wurz Financial Services and is an active member of the Covington, KY rotary club, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, and the Covington Business Council. To learn more about Darren, connect with him on LinkedIn.





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