“A regular diploma is always the preferred option,” says Mr. Hook, but there are some big financial advantages to earning a special-education diploma.
Such a degree would allow Tre to attend school until he turns 22 years old. That means he would receive an additional four years of publicly funded education and ancillary services such as transportation. Tre also would receive vocational training and transition planning where the school would identify publicly available programs for him after graduation.
Because state and federal programs that provide housing, vocational and transportation services to adults with disabilities often have very long waiting lists, the family should identify and apply for such programs as soon as possible, Mr. Hook says.
Mr. and Ms. Sothern need to set up a special-needs trust, and any inheritance or life-insurance payout should be placed in it, Mr. Hook says. Without such a trust, any money left to Tre by his parents or grandparents would make him ineligible for public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid until he was down to his last $2,000.
The couple also may want to consider buying additional life insurance to help support Tre after they pass, Mr. Hook says. To determine how much additional insurance to buy, Mr. Hook advises the couple to consider the amount of annual income they would like the policy to provide over a 25-year period. So, for example, if they wanted to provide Tre with $25,000 of annual income for 25 years using a 4% withdrawal rate, they would buy a policy with a payout of about $625,000.