Financial and Long-Term Planning for a Special Needs Family Member – Retiring for Three

Quick Overview

In this webinar, Mary Ann Ehlert discusses the importance of financial planning for families with a special needs member. She emphasizes the need for unique planning that goes beyond what the average person needs to do. Ehlert advises attendees to gather important information such as Social Security statements, network statements, and cash flow statements. She also highlights the significance of understanding health insurance coverage for the special needs individual and the importance of creating a team of professionals to assist with financial and legal matters. Ehlert encourages attendees to take action and commit to completing specific tasks related to their financial planning.

Welcome to Protected Tomorrows! In this webinar, we will be discussing the unique financial and long-term planning considerations for families with a special needs family member. Today’s topic is “Retiring for Three Workshop.” I am Mary Anne Ehlert, the president and founder of Protected Tomorrows, and I will be guiding you through this class.


Retirement is something that everyone looks forward to, but for families with a special needs member, there are additional planning considerations to take into account. In this class, we will cover the specific aspects of retirement planning that are different for families with a special needs member.

Before we dive into the topic, I want to remind you that this class is part of a series. We have already covered an overview of the program, benefits planning, legal planning, and the ABLE Act. If you haven’t attended those classes, I encourage you to watch the recordings to get a comprehensive understanding of the topics we have covered so far.

The Importance of Planning for Retirement

When planning for a special needs family member, it is crucial to consider not only their needs but also your own retirement plan. Many families focus solely on the needs of their special needs member and neglect their own financial and long-term planning. However, it is essential to ensure that you have a secure retirement and can provide for your own happiness and well-being.

Steps to Take

Step 1: Gather Information

To begin your retirement planning, there are several key pieces of information you need to gather.

  • Obtain your Social Security statements from the Social Security Administration. These statements will provide you with important information about your retirement benefits and the benefits available to your child.
  • Create a net worth statement that outlines your assets and liabilities. This will give you a clear picture of your financial situation.
  • Prepare a cash flow statement that details your income and expenses. This will help you understand your current financial situation and project your retirement needs.
  • Determine your child’s cash flow needs. Consider their medical expenses, education costs, and any additional support they require.

Step 2: Analyze Your Financial Situation

Once you have gathered all the necessary information, you can analyze your financial situation and determine how much you will need for retirement. Consider factors such as your Social Security benefits, pensions, investments, and any other sources of income.

Take into account your child’s financial needs and how they will impact your retirement plan. If necessary, adjust your cash flow and net worth statements to reflect these additional expenses.

Step 3: Consider Government Benefits

Government benefits play a significant role in the financial planning for families with a special needs member. Understand how your child’s benefits, such as Medicaid and Social Security, will be affected by your retirement.

Consider the timing of your retirement and how it will impact your child’s access to healthcare and other benefits. Plan accordingly to ensure a smooth transition and continuity of care.

Step 4: Update Your Estate Plan

Review and update your estate plan to reflect your retirement goals and the needs of your special needs family member. Ensure that your special needs trust is in place to protect your child’s financial future.

Consider the use of an ABLE account as a tool to supplement your child’s financial needs. Coordinate with your financial, legal, and accounting professionals to ensure that your estate plan aligns with your retirement goals.

Step 5: Build a Support Team

Building a support team is crucial for successful retirement planning. Engage with financial advisors, attorneys, accountants, and other professionals who specialize in special needs planning.

Ensure that your child also has a support team in place, including healthcare providers, therapists, and other professionals who can assist with their specific needs.


Retirement planning for families with a special needs member requires careful consideration and coordination of various factors. By following these steps and seeking professional guidance, you can create a comprehensive plan that ensures the financial security and well-being of both yourself and your special needs family member.

Remember, you don’t have to navigate this process alone. Reach out to us at Protected Tomorrows for assistance and support. We are here to help you every step of the way.

Talk details

  • Title: Financial and long-term planning for a special needs family member – 5. Retiring for Three
  • Author(s): Mary Anne Ehlert
  • Author(s)’ affiliation: Protected Tomorrows
  • Publication date: 2021-09-07
  • Collection: 2021 ASF Virtual Family Conference