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The attorneys at Brinkley Walser Stoner wish to share this information with anyone who may be caring for a child or parent with special needs, or who may be facing separation and divorce where one spouse is suffering from a disabling condition.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27% of the country’s population is considered to have a disability. In North Carolina, it is estimated that 28.6% of adults 18+ have a disabling condition. The disabling conditions consisted of sensory disabilities, physical limitations, mental and emotional conditions. The percentage of those disabled increased with age.

Statistics from a survey conducted by MetLife, Inc. in 2005 showed that nearly 9% of parents reported of having a child (including adult children) with a “physical, developmental, cognitive, medical or emotional condition. ” According to this survey, the following information bears consideration:

  • 49% are covered by some form of private insurance
  • 41% are covered by Medicaid
  • 8.5% of children with special needs have no form of health insurance coverage
  • Parents spend an average of $326/month on non-covered medical expenses
  • 60% of children with special needs require some type of medical intervention or administration of meds on a daily basis
  • On average, parents of children with special needs spend 24 hours/week caring for their child, with 32% of such parents reporting they spend more than 40 hours/week providing such care
  • 84% of parents with children having special needs have made no provisions for lifetime financial assistance for those children
  • 88% of parents whose children have special needs have not established a special needs trust to maintain public benefits eligibility for their children upon their death

Death and disability of a parent is not the only factor in planning for maintenance of financial independence or public benefits eligibility. Spouses also fail at times to consider the effects of property settlements upon their divorce upon the eligibility of their children or disabled former spouse for public benefits. Children with special needs and disabled former spouses bring unique custody, child support, alimony, and asset division questions to the table in a divorce/property settlement situation.

If you are caring for someone with special needs, making sure you and your dependent are protected under the law is imperative. If you have any questions or need assistance with guardianships, elder care or estate planning, contact the attorneys at Brinkley Walser Stoner today.