The cost of raising a child with special needs can quickly dwarf the average cost of raising a child. While analysts believe middle-income families spend about a quarter of a million per child, they quote the cost of raising a special needs child at well over $1 million.
While the out-of-pocket costs can vary dramatically depending on your situation and on your child's unique needs, you should try to plan for the increased costs and personal demands you are likely to face if your child has special needs. In particular, you may want to be aware of the following essentials:
529 ABLE Plans
Reserved for people who have a serious disability when they are under the age of 26, these plans allow you to contribute up to $15,000 per year. The contributions are not pre-tax. But as your investment grows, you don't have to pay tax on the growth, and distributions are also tax free.
Your child can use these funds for education, job training, healthcare costs, and some other expenses. The government does not take these funds into account when determining your child's eligibility for government services, unless the account's balance exceeds $100,000.
Liquid Assets for Medical Emergencies
Ideally, you should always have three to six months worth of expenses in cash or relatively liquid investments, but when you have a special needs child, you may want to expand your savings account to prepare for the cost of a medical emergency.
If something happens to you, life insurance helps your family to cover expenses in your absence. When deciding how much life insurance you need, you typically take into account your wages, cost of your home, college tuition for children, and any other expenses you plan to cover with your income if you are alive and working.
However, when you have a special needs child, you also need to think about the cost of their care. Note that you may not want to name your special needs child as a life insurance beneficiary. If they have too much money, they may lose eligibility for essential government help, but you should talk with a financial professional to identify the best approach for your situation.
Similarly, you may also want to look into disability coverage. If you cannot work due to a disability, this type of policy helps to replace your income. Normally, a disability policy goes above and beyond any disability payments you may receive from the government.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Unfortunately, you typically cannot get long-term care coverage for a child with special needs, even though they may need specialized care throughout their life. However, you may want to look into long-term care coverage for yourself and your spouse. As you get older, you may need specialized care, and juggling those costs on top of covering your child's care needs, may become financially debilitating. Insurance may help to cut your costs.
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Prior to investing in a 529 Plan investors should consider whether the investor's or designated beneficiary's home state offers any state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in such state's qualified tuition program. Withdrawals used for qualified expenses are federally tax free. Tax treatment at the state level may vary. Please consult with your tax advisor before investing.
This material contains only general descriptions and is not a solicitation to sell any insurance product or security, nor is it intended as any financial or tax advice. For information about specific insurance needs or situations, contact your insurance agent. This article is intended to assist in educating you about insurance generally and not to provide personal service. They may not take into account your personal characteristics such as budget, assets, risk tolerance, family situation or activities which may affect the type of insurance that would be right for you. In addition, state insurance laws and insurance underwriting rules may affect available coverage and its costs. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company. If you need more information or would like personal advice you should consult an insurance professional. You may also visit your state’s insurance department for more information.
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