Rising Tide Blog

Can I set up my special needs kids for a safe financial future

Posted by Matt Hale

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Rising Tide’s Founder and General Manager, Chris Browne, has two very special kids. He has thought a great deal about what he can do to make sure that they are financially secure when they are older and he and his wife are no longer around to take care of them. Chris recently joined 774 ABC Local Radio presenter Hilary Harper on air to talk about what is available for special needs families.

You can listen to that here


Chris shares his thoughts below on planning for the future for special needs children. Having a disabled child has many challenges but in my experience, what worries parents most is the uncertainty concerning the financial and emotional support of their child when they’re unable to care for them.  Unfortunately because of the extra daily pressures caused by a family member with a disability, people just don’t have the “clear air” to plan for the future well-being of a special needs child. This is really unfortunate because there are some great things that the government and carer support networks offer that eligible families are not aware of. Either because they lack the time and energy or expertise to navigate the often confusing world of social services.


RT event

One classic example of this is the Special Disability Trust.  The trust was introduced by the federal government in 2006 to encourage parents (or step parents, adoptive parents, grandparents, legal guardian, brothers and sisters) to gift up to $609,500 to a disabled family member tax-free.  The proceeds can then be used primarily for their ongoing medical care and accommodation requirements without affecting their Disability Support Pension because this asset is not means tested.  Which is awesome considering they can still own a home and have an additional $196,750 in other assets!  In addition to this, what pleases me more is that the government now allow $10,750 per annum to be spent on other items that contribute to their happiness. So who is eligible?  The quick answer to cover MOST cases is the following:

  1. People who receive the Disability Support Pension, AND
  2. Their immediate family qualify for the Carers Allowance, AND
  3. The person with the disability earns less than the relevant award wage, OR works less than 7 hours per week.

Obviously there is heaps of other stuff to consider when making this decisio,  like the tax treatment of the assets as they’re moved into the Special Disability Trust, alternatives like discretionary or testamentary trusts, or even what happens to the money when the person with the disability dies.   So rather than screaming out, “THIS IS ALL TOO HARD” have a chat your financial planner and get them to answer all your questions, and if at the end of that you think it’s appropriate for your family, get them to manage the implementation of the strategy too.  You’ve got enough on your plate. Chris will be hosting a seminar at Rising Tide Headquarters on April 15 – details can be found here All the very best and keep supporting those very special kids!

 Chris is hosting a seminar at Rising Tide Headquarters on April 15th, 2014 from 6.15pm  – check it our on Facebook here