Providing for a Loved One with a Disability 

Planning to financially support a loved one with a disability is a necessary endeavor that may be expensive.   

According to a 2015 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 53 million adults in the United States live with some form of disability[1]. Some of those affected will need a lifetime of care.

Providing this care is a necessary but costly endeavor – with expenses sometimes stretching into the millions of dollars. Care cost estimates vary widely, making it difficult for caregivers to prepare a financial plan.

“There are as many different answers to (the cost estimate) as there are people in this country with a disability,” says Richard Cairns, a senior vice president with PNC Wealth Management. “Each case is distinct and each individual has unique needs.”

Regardless of the circumstances or severity of the disability, Cairns says there are some standard steps family members can take to create a financial plan to help provide the long-term care their loved ones need.

  1. Do your research – Research your loved one’s disability – learn the terminology and search for government support programs that may reduce care costs and/or supplement personal expenses.
  2. Find a support network – There may be someone in your family, friend network or community facing similar challenges. These networks can be some of the best places to learn about public programs or trusted advisors in the medical, financial and educational fields.
  3. Talk to professionals that provide services specifically for the disabled –This includes attorneys who are well-versed in estate planning for individuals with special needs and healthcare case managers who can help develop a life care plan for a loved one with a disability. An attorney with this experience can help set up the right legal structure that will best provide for the long-term care of a loved one.
  4. Build a financial framework - In some cases attorneys may recommend that a trust be created and funded to address the unique needs of the disabled individual. A trust can control access to the assets set aside for the disabled family member and will set guidelines on how the money can be used.
boy in wheelchair reads with a young woman

With research and the support of family, friends or professionals as a guide, building a financial plan to care for a family member with special needs is achievable. As you plan, Cairns advises the importance of being flexible, but persistent.  

“Every person’s circumstance is different,” Cairns says. “You have to devote some time and energy to creating a plan for how to take this on and ensure that you help your money go as far as possible.”


Learn more about how PNC can help you plan for your financial future »


Richard Cairns
Richard Cairns is a senior vice president with PNC Wealth Management and Hawthorn PNC Family Wealth

Each plan should be prepared for an individual’s specific circumstances. There’s no cut-and-paste solution for something like this.

Richard Cairns

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