Why financial planning is key when you have a child with a disability
Raising a child requires long term financial planning as the costs are high. When it comes to a child with a disability, parents must budget for more as there are additional expenses relating to medicines, therapy and care giving.
Here are some things to keep in mind while planning.
Budget for it - Start working on a monthly budget that considers the child's therapy, schooling and fun activities. This must also consider how the costs are likely to rise as the child grows older.
"There are also other factors like medical advancement which has enhanced the life span of special needs dependent," says Jitendra Solanki, who has written the book, Financial Planning for Special Needs Children Families. "There is also high inflation leading to the increase in the cost of lifetime care and lack of support from the government. This drives the need for families to take a financial planning approach."
Have an emergency fund - Have a separate fund relating to any sudden costs that may arise relating to your child. This should be in fixed deposits or liquid funds, so you can access them readily. This is important emphasises Prashant Singh, a retired Indian Air Force Officer, whose son Aryaman, who has a disability.
The Singhs' started planning for their child's future seriously when he was 10 years old.
"The thought of an eventuality wherein something happens to us, and he is left behind. We sought financial advice for planning and generating the long- term requirement of funds and ensuring that they are made available in case of an eventuality. While discussing the issues, all possibilities including, the worst-case scenario must be considered and planned for. - Prashant Singh, Parent to disabled child
Future scenario - To ensure your child is looked after even after you are not around, consider an estate plan. There are many options. One is to set up a trust and have appoint someone you trust to look out for your child. You could also create a will that states clearly what you have left for your child. This is an oversight many families are guilty of, says Dr Solanki.
"Most special needs dependent families are not planning for their future. This is alarming. Unless they put a plan in place, the future of the child will always be at the mercy of others especially after their time."
Invest in skilling - Look for a way to develop your child's skills so he or she can become self-sufficient. Do not let your child's disability come in the way of pursuing a career or occupation, urges Parul Kumtha, Founding Trustee,Forum for Autism. Kumtha's son, Kabir, who is cognitively impaired, has a business in making flower garlands, called Kabir's Kreations.
"The more capable and independent a special adult is, the easier it will be for caregivers to assimilate him or her into society and the easier it will be to take care of him or her," she says. "With this understanding, we have always aimed at having Kabir do what his regular peers are doing. Whether it is going to the gym, working, shopping, hanging out with peers, seeing movies with them, etc. We try to ensure that he attempts what others his age do, even if he does so differently."