With baby boomers fast approaching their 60s, the media’s attention has shifted from parenting and surviving the empty-nest syndrome to how to have a successful retirement. Advice for boomers is everywhere.
Demographics play a starring role in the story line. People are making different choices about quitting the workforce, living longer and staying healthier than the generations that came before them. A recent MetLife Mature Market Institute study shows that many are working well past the traditional retirement age of 65, sometimes for enjoyment but more often in pursuit of income security. In fact, 37% of 66- to 70- year-olds are still working or looking for work.
Tucked away in all the demographics is an often overlooked story. But it is a critical tale, both for the families affected and the financial services professionals that provide services to them. Many children with special needs, who once faced shortened lives, today are living into early adulthood and beyond. Their parents–once distraught about outliving their children–now face the challenge of ensuring stable care and financial resources long after they themselves are gone.
It isn’t a small problem. Today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 32.5 million Americans are disabled severely enough to need assistance, and approximately 4 million children between the ages of 6 and 14 have a disability.
Advances in medicine and the development of early interventions have lengthened the lives of many children with special needs. For example, those born with Down syndrome can expect to live about twice as long as their counterparts born in the 1980s. The pressure on parents, many of whom may face their own health problems in their elderly years, is immense, particularly for those children with special needs who will never be able to live independently.
All of these factors point to the growing demand for financial planning that can address families and their children or dependents with special needs.
There is no simple fix. Federal laws (not to mention additional laws that vary from state to state) and regulations make creating special needs trusts complicated. Each family is unique, based on the special needs of the child, the family structure, its assets, and much more. But the insurance and financial services professional is well positioned to play a critical role in bringing it all together for the family.
Think of yourself as a quarterback, who first carefully builds the team and then provides the direction necessary to reach the family’s goal. The team you put together will include: