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Special Needs Planning - Written by Christine Lam in Portland, OR Thumbnail

Special Needs Planning - Written by Christine Lam in Portland, OR

Bringing a child into this world is both wonderful and fulfilling. For most parents, the focus is keeping their child healthy and setting them up for success. But what about families who have children with special needs? The upbringing for this child could look drastically different due to additional care needs for the disability that could last well into adult life. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 4 (26%) adults in the United States have some type of disability.1 Disability can include impairment of mobility, vision, hearing, cognitive, or psychological. A disability can be present at birth or developed over time. Some examples of a disability developed at birth include Duchenne muscular dystrophy and down syndrome. Conditions that may develop over time include autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Statistics show that the cost of caring for a child from birth to 18 is approximately $13,000 per year. However, this number almost doubles to $30,000 per year when caring for a child with special needs.2 This is due to the additional cost of care needs for the individual and other costs for special accommodations. The staggering costs can bring stress to families who are already under a lot of stress trying to care for their family member with special needs. This is where a qualified professional specializing in special needs planning can help.

What is special needs planning and why is it important? Special needs planning is a service provided by financial planners and attorneys to help families navigate the complex issues within special needs planning. Qualified professionals holding the Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (CHSNC®) designation are specifically trained to assist and support families around these planning issues. A ChSNC® can help address income planning, guardianships, special needs trusts, government benefits, and long-term care planning, to name a few. Unlike traditional financial planning, special needs planning may need to be structured for two generations. It is common for parents to disregard their own needs like retirement or estate planning while putting special needs planning first. For this reason, it is especially important for parents to engage with a financial planner familiar with both planning services to aid in their overall plan.

If you or anyone you know has a loved one with special needs and would like to learn more about special needs planning, please reach out to our office. Christine is a ChSNC® and her goal is to be a resource to the vast number of families within the special needs community.


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disability and Health Data System (DHDS) [Internet]. [updated 2018 May 24; cited 2018 August 27]. Available from: http://dhds.cdc.gov

2. Special Planning for Special Needs Individuals: An Inside Look [Internet]. Available from: https://www.theamericancollege.edu/news-center/special-planning-for-special-needs-individuals