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Financial Planning and Assistance for Families with Special Needs

Family laughing and playing outside with their son with special needs

When you have a family member with special needs, financial planning, including estate planning, is vital. Be more prepared to care for your family member by planning ahead.

Military OneSource is here to help you – with financial planning related to issues like disability tax credits, Supplemental Security Income and much more.

How to start your financial plan

While every family should have a financial plan for the future, it’s even more important for families with special needs. When setting up your plan, ask yourself:

  • Will my family member need continued care throughout their life?
  • How will my family member’s support needs change over time?
    • What large or out-of-pocket expenses do we need to be prepared to face (e.g., travel expenses for medical care, equipment, an appropriate vehicle for transportation, and medical expenses not covered by insurance)?
    • Who will care for my family member if I am no longer able? Will my family member require a home care provider or facility-based care? What kind of financial resources will be necessary?
  • How should I include my family member with special needs in my estate planning? Do I have the necessary legal documents in place, such as a will?

Need help with your plan?

Setting up a good plan can be challenging. There’s a lot to consider. For example, if you leave assets worth more than a certain amount to a family member with a disability, you could disqualify them from government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. But you do have consultants available to help at no cost:

  • Meet with a Military OneSource special needs consultant for assistance with questions related to finances, education, care and more.
  • Contact an Exceptional Family Member Program Family Support provider at your installation for information and referral.
  • Talk to a special needs consultant for recommendations on setting up an Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, account. ABLE accounts are tax-advantaged savings and investment accounts for individuals with special needs.
  • Meet with your installation personal financial management services or legal services to discuss additional resources to plan for your family member’s financial needs.
  • Contact TRICARE to see if the Extended Care Health Option, or ECHO, applies to you. TRICARE ECHO provides financial assistance to beneficiaries with special needs for an integrated set of services and supplies. You must be on active duty to be eligible.

Credits and programs for families with special needs

Your family may qualify for certain tax credits, deductions and be eligible for federal programs. Get details on our Special Needs Benefits page.

Military OneSource provides year-round access to tax consultants who can help maximize your refund.

Visit for information about disability and earned income tax credits including the following:

The IRS also provides tax information on ABLE accounts, along with other tax highlights for people with special needs.

Federal programs

Learn more about whether you qualify for any of the following federal programs by contacting a special needs specialty consultant at Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. For more information about programs for those with disabilities, enroll in the MilLife Learning course, Government Assistance Programs.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance: Pays benefits to those who meet both the medical and non-medical requirements.
  • Supplemental Security Income, or SSI: Pays benefits to adults and children with disabilities who have limited income and resources.
  • Title V programs: State programs with direct, personal health care services to improve the quality of health care for children with special needs.
  • Fair Housing Act: Property managers are required to make reasonable alterations at no cost to the tenant.
  • Medicaid and Medicare for families with special needs: Basic health and long-term care services for eligible people including individuals with disabilities, in families with low income and limited resources.

Facing financial challenges? Here are some sources for help

Don’t hesitate to ask for help. If you need assistance or anticipate you will in the future, here are some places to turn for assistance:

  • TRICARE Debt Collection Assistance Officers. TRICARE regional offices can help with resolving health care collection-related issues and are located at military treatment facilities. Or visit the Customer Service Community Directory to find a Debt Collection Assistance Officer.
  • Military Aid Societies. These nonprofit organizations support each of the services by providing emergency financial assistance in the form of interest-free loans and grants. Visit the Army Emergency ReliefNavy-Marine Corps Relief SocietyAir Force Aid Society or Coast Guard Mutual Assistance websites for more information. Or contact your local Military and Family Support Center for more information about the Military Aid Societies.
  • Social Security Administration. Use the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool to find out if you qualify for benefits from the Social Security Administration.

Make sure to visit the EFMP & Me tool to create a customized checklist for your family. Review the Legal, Estate Planning and Trusts section for more information on future planning. Other great resources are episodes 4 and 5 of the Season One EFMP Podcast Series, which cover legal and long-term financial planning.

Visit the EFMP Family Support provider at your nearest installation or call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or use live chat to schedule an appointment with a special needs consultant. OCONUS/International? View calling options. Appointments are available seven days a week.

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