A developmental disability is far from thoughts which enter our minds when we look at our precious child.
It’s natural to not want to focus on the scarier things in your child’s life, like a developmental disability.
Unfortunately, this inclination to ignore the possibilities often leaves us emotionally vulnerable and financially unprepared should we have to face supporting a child with a developmental disability.
Today, we discuss what you can do to financially protect a child with a developmental disability.
What is a Developmental Disability?
Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. These conditions begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and generally last throughout a person’s lifetime. Examples of developmental disabilities include:
- Attention deficit/Hyperactivity disorder( ADHD)
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Cerebral palsy
- Hearing loss
- Vision impairment
- Learning disabilities
Recent estimates in the United States show that about one in six—or about 15 percent—of children, ages three through 17 years, have one or more developmental disabilities.
Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and crawling are called developmental milestones. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move.
Children develop at their own pace, so it’s impossible to tell exactly when a child will learn a given skill. However, the developmental milestones give you a general idea of the changes to expect as your child gets older.
If you’re worried about your child talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about your concerns. If your child has developmental disabilities, it’s natural to feel emotionally overwhelmed and worried but it’s even more important to make sure he or she is financially protected.
Ways You Can Financially Protect Your Child With a Developmental Disability
There are many factors you should consider when building a financial plan to protect a child with a developmental disability. It is always best to consult a financial advisor to examine your unique situation. We outline some important areas to consider below.
Get Adequate Health Insurance
A child with a developmental disability will often have high medical bills.
Apply for Medicaid coverage , a government funded health insurance plan, which allows families of children with disabilities to “buy-into” the Medicaid program by paying a monthly premium based on the family’s income.
Medicaid health benefits cover individuals who qualify for Supplemental Security Income. It provides government funded health insurance for children with developmental disabilities who have little or no income. It provides cash to meed basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
Also, review your private health insurance policies carefully. If you child is already covered under your policy, it’s important to know what happens when your child reaches age of majority—which is 18 in most states.
- Some allow the adult child to continue coverage if he or she is a full time student.
- Most policies will now allow continued coverage for dependents up to age 26.
- Some will allow indefinite continued coverage for adult children with disabilities, and if the parent continues to provide 50% or more of that adult child’s support and maintenance. You should consider this carefully if your child will be receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), because some aspects of SSI payments are based on whether or not the young adult is claimed as a dependent by his or her parents.
- Others will allow the parents to continue to support the individual indefinitely.
Take time to weight the pros and cons of the different options available in context of your individual situation.
Obtain Comprehensive Life Insurance
If your child with a developmental disability will struggle financially after you die, you’ll need to obtain a life insurance policy to help support him or her when you are no longer around. A life insurance policy provides cash to your family after your death.
There are several types of life insurance plan available so take the time to consider all needs for your family. Then, work with your insurance company, ask them all your questions regarding life coverage, so you can make sure to get the policy that’s right for you.
Make a Will
Make a will to financially protect your child.
Meet with a lawyer to prepare your will. Make note of all assets and money you want to leave for your child, as well as the person you want to be your child’s guardian. Make sure you ask that person first and explain exactly what’s involved in taking care of your child with special needs. You need to know for certain they are comfortable with being your child’s guardian in the case of unexpected events.
Set Up A Special Needs Trust
A special needs trust holds assets for your child with a developmental disability. This type of trust can supplement your child’s income and not affect his or her eligibility to receive benefits, Supplemental Security Income, or Medicaid.
Taking care of a child with a developmental disability can be emotionally overwhelming and challenging at times, which is why it is even more important to take the steps necessary to prepare financially, and protect your child for their lifetime.