Disability Planning: What it is (and isn't)

Hannah Provost |

Over the last several months I've been engulfed in learning all about disability planning. You may be asking, what the heck is that?

This isn't something we're doing instead of financial planning - it's a deeper dive for those families and individuals who need it. 

Before I go into what it is, let me share why it's important to me.

Almost 9 years ago now, after struggling with infertility, my husband and I decided to sign up for an informational session about foster care. We spent 10 weeks learning the ins and outs of why foster care exists, what circumstances lead families to enter the foster care system, and the challenges that children and youth interacting with foster care face. We came out the other side humbled, a little terrified, and excited to grow our family in this way. When we met our daughters, we also met their extended families, and recognized that we too would have really struggled with the set of circumstances they faced. 

Much later, we were introduced to our son. Along with being an amazing inventor, a lover of practical jokes, and an excellent snuggler, he's also a survivor of early childhood trauma. We got a crash course in navigating life with a neurodivergent kiddo. In the process, we learned that our daughters are also neurodivergent, in different ways. Along with all of the practical things we needed to learn in order to just get through every day, my financial planning skills kicked into gear, and I began thinking about what we need to do in order to secure a future that includes these amazing kids.

So what is disability planning? It's financial planning, which is:

- Establishing goals

- Identifying resources

- Putting those resources to work

- Repeating that process over and over as life changes

How is the process different when there is a disability present?

- The timeline changes. While we're often are crafting financial security for one generation, disability planning will require us to think about the security of two or more generations of a family.

- Available resources are different. We examine what role government benefits such as SSI, SSDI, Medicaid, and OPWDD will play in financial security. We're extremely tuned into the ramifications of estate planning decisions including beneficiary designation.

- Coordination becomes even more important. While it's generally a good idea to bring family members, tax advisors, and attorneys into the loop with financial planning, this coordination is critical when there is a disability present. We will coordinate calls and meetings with the appropriate individuals so that everyone is working in tandem.

We're excited and honored to serve this population in addition to the general public. This isn't a shift away from what we've already built - it's an added layer for those who require it.