Caring for a person with special needs takes special planning. Taking steps now can help secure your dependent’s well-being, today and tomorrow. Areas you should consider include your dependent’s legal, financial, medical, and educational needs.
Addressing legal issues is a crucial step in planning for the future. Creating and planning your estate is vital to meeting your dependent’s lifetime needs. These issues fall into three main categories: wills, guardianships, and special needs trusts.
You want the best for your dependent’s lifetime care, but sometimes sufficient financial resources to meet those needs may not be available. The death of one or both caregivers can easily disrupt the continuation of your dependent’s financial assurance. Figuring out what your dependent is likely to need is tricky. Ask yourself: What type of life do you envision for your loved one with special needs? How much money will he/she need for quality lifetime care? And the unique supplies, equipment, treatments and procedures a child needs can strain even families with significant personal assets. Fortunately, financial relief may be available. State and federal government programs, community resources, Social Security benefits, private foundations, medical insurance and special education resources provide aid. Consult city, county, state and federal agencies for help in answering financial aid questions.
Specialized medical treatment may be needed for individuals with special needs, sometimes beginning in a neo-natal intensive care unit and other times the need for such treatments arise much later. You need to take precautions to ensure that you make the most of your medical insurance coverage. Otherwise, you could be left holding the bill—or a large part of it.
As a special needs caregiver, you can take steps to make sure your dependent gets the best education possible. To do so requires becoming an active advocate and participant in your dependent’s educational plan. The first step is knowing the special education laws and what they provide, such as Early Intervention, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Individualized Education Program (IEP), Transition from School to Adult Life, and Due Process.