Looking Ahead: Securing the future for loved ones with special needs

By Ryan Ben, Financial Advisor, Northwestern Mutual March 4, 2024

Chances are that you know a family who has a child with special needs. National Institute of Health statistics say one in five households is caring for a special needs child, representing a highly diverse group with a physical, mental, or cognitive disability. It can be any family, regardless of a parent’s socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or health history. Yet one thing in common: parents' hope and dreams for their children's future.

Preparing for the future and the lifetime of the person needing assistance is a necessary yet very emotional process; more than hopes and dreams, caring for a child with special needs is a commitment based on love that affects your entire family. But love alone can’t protect your child’s future. 

Fortunately, there are steps you can take now to help ensure the financial security and quality of life you dream of for your child. It all begins with getting the right information. 

Getting started 

The earlier you start, the greater your options will be to attain the financial future you envision for your child with special needs. But to make informed decisions, you’ll need to address many complex legal, financial, medical, educational, and governmental issues. That’s why assembling a support team of professionals with expertise in these areas is vital. 

Finding the solution that’s right for you

With so many options and resources available, there is no “one size fits all” solution to securing a bright financial future for your child with special needs. You’ll need to discover what’s right for your unique situation and circumstances. 

Special needs need special attention

As a financial advisor, I help families develop and implement a comprehensive plan of action to achieve their goals. However, when a family member has special needs, figuring out the cost of providing the quality of life a parent wants for their child’s life requires expert analysis. You need to develop a customized strategy that also helps ensure a lifetime of resources for that person and maintain eligibility for important government programs and benefits.

This is where I partner with an experienced Certified Financial Planner™ professional with the Chartered Special Needs Consultant® designation to help make a difference. ChSNC® designees are equipped with the specialized skills needed to help parents and caregivers plan for the future with honesty, ethics, and compassion. 

Since 1995, my colleague Thomas J. Canale, CFP™, ChSNC®, Private Wealth Advisor, has guided hundreds of families and caregivers with a loved one with special needs.  

He truly understands the various implications financial tools such as special needs trusts and Able accounts have on taxes and government benefits. He sees the emotional aspect of providing for a loved one with a disability. He has developed a genuine passion and cares deeply.  

While there are many unknowns, remember you don’t have to do it alone. Together, with courage, compassion, and candor, we will work in your best interests.  

Let’s book an appointment to discuss the five steps to help secure your child's financial future. To learn more about Ryan Ben, visit