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.
- Life Insurance
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.
- Disability Coverage
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.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial professional prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.
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