“Special Needs” is defined as “any of various difficulties (such as physical, emotional, behavioral, or learning disability or impairment) that causes an individual to require additional or specialized services or accommodations.” Each of these circumstances are unique, as are the individuals who live with them. So, just as there shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all labeling for the broad category of special needs, there shouldn’t be a cookie-cutter prescription for Special Needs Financial Planning. This belief is core to our philosophy at Aviance Capital Partners.
We work with many parents, guardians, and family members of individuals with special needs, as well as the individuals themselves. We believe the most important part of the work we do for them is to create and execute on a personalized plan tailored to their unique needs.
As a firm, we have many ties to the special needs community, both personally and professionally, and we know that this population is often overlooked and underserved by those in the financial services industry. It is our goal to change this circumstance by providing comprehensive financial planning to special needs families. With this niche perspective, we can help plan for the future by tackling what we perceive as the three biggest financial challenges facing this community.
Maximizing Government Benefits
Ongoing medical and mental healthcare for individuals with special needs can be exorbitantly expensive. Even with significant financial resources, the costs associated with caring for and supporting a special needs person can be staggering. Thankfully, there are many government benefits available for individuals diagnosed with a qualifying disability or special needs condition.
The most common government benefit programs include:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Each program is subject to strict eligibility requirements regarding current age, age at time of diagnosis, income, and available assets. These restrictions can make it difficult for higher-earning families to qualify for government assistance, which is why proactive planning can be crucial. At Aviance, we help our clients assess their current financial situation and implement planning strategies designed to maintain eligibility and maximize government benefits whenever possible.
Improve Quality of Life
Individuals with special needs are more than just their diagnosis and we believe their quality of life should reflect that. While government benefits are helpful, they are meant only to provide for the essentials of living (i.e., food, housing, and basic medical care). Beyond that, special needs individuals need financial resources to draw upon for expenses like clothing, entertainment, transportation, personal care items, technology, pets, or hobbies. However, their means of procuring these resources—whether through working, gifting, inheritance, etc.—must not affect eligibility for government benefits. This can be a tricky situation as any monetary gifts or additional sources of income given directly to your family member can cause disqualification. To alleviate this issue, we work together to structure support intended not to affect receipt of government benefits, giving your family member the opportunity to thrive, rather than just survive.
Planning for a Lifetime
It used to be that generally speaking, individuals with special needs had shorter than average life expectancies, passing 10-20 years before their primary caregivers. However, with improved treatment options, occupational therapy, and technological advances, individuals with special needs are often able to live full lives and their life expectancies have risen dramatically in the last few decades. In fact, the life expectancy for a person with Down Syndrome was just 25 in 1983, but by 2014 it was 60!
This increase in life expectancy is wonderful news, but it also means that many individuals will outlive their support system. To alleviate this issue, families can develop comprehensive estate plans that will provide lasting guidance and support in the absence of the primary caregivers. Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), Life Plans, Special Needs Trusts, and Guardianships are just some of the considerations that must be made by caregivers to provide continuity for an individual with special needs.
Peace of Mind through Proactive Planning
At Aviance Capital Partners, we won’t leave your family’s health and wellbeing up to chance. Through our proactive approach to planning and our focus on the unique challenges of special needs families, we hope you find financial confidence and peace of mind for every stage of life. Learn more about our financial planning process by scheduling a complimentary consultation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org today.
Aviance Capital Partners, LLC (“ACP”) is an SEC-registered investment adviser located in Naples, Florida. Registration as an investment adviser is not an endorsement by securities regulators and does not imply that ACP has attained a certain level of skill, training, or ability. While the information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date, ACP does not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. The information provided is general in nature, which should not be construed as specific advice tailored to an individual reader. ACP suggests that readers consult an attorney or tax advisory professional about their specific legal or tax situation. Additional information about ACP, including its Form ADV Part 2A describing its services, fees, and applicable conflicts of interest is available upon request and at https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/firm/summary/146597
 The Impact of Longevity on the Special Needs Client – ADVISOR Magazine (lifehealth.com)
Patja K, Iivanainen M, Vesala H, Oksanen H, Ruoppila I. Life expectancy of people with intellectual disability: a 35-year follow-up study. J Intellect Disabil Res. 2000 Oct;44 ( Pt 5):591-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2788.2000.00280.x. PMID: 11079356