ChSNC - Chartered Special Needs Consultant

Get the knowledge to understand and meet the needs of special needs individuals and their caregivers. Become a champion for this growing and close-knit community.

Designation at a Glance


 $2,800 or less


Complete in 12 months or less


100% online, self-study

Learning Outcomes
  • Develop a specialized knowledge of the contemporary issues important to those requiring special needs financial planning, including tax planning, SSI, special needs trusts, and other federal benefits
  • Learn how to set special needs individuals and their family members or caregivers up for current and future financial success with life insurance options and estate planning
  • Prepare for costs of long-term care for those with special needs through management of healthcare planning and Medicaid complexities
  • Fully address the concerns, goals, and hopes of members of this underserved community

What is the ChSNC® Designation?

The Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) is an online, self-study program designed for experienced financial advisors who want to make a real difference in the lives of people with disabilities or special needs. Augment your current financial planning and interpersonal skills with specialized knowledge focused on helping parents and caregivers plan for immediate and long term care, as well as wisely and compassionately guiding families through complex financial decisions and benefits systems so they and their loved ones can have the peace of mind they deserve.

With the ChSNC®, you can give your career a higher purpose—and make a real difference in people’s lives.


Why Choose ChSNC®?

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Growing client pool—26% of U.S. adults have some type of disability, and 7% of children have a developmental disability

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ChSNC® is the only credential specifically designed to prepare financial advisors to help plan for those with special needs

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Truly multidisciplinary—created with help of lawyers, financial planners, and psychologists to provide a comprehensive understanding of special needs issues

ChSNC®: Always by Your Side

Program Details


There are no prerequisites for you to begin the ChSNC® program, but before you can use the ChSNC® designation, you must:

  1. Successfully complete all three courses
  2. Agree to comply with The American College Code of Ethics and Procedures
  3. Have at least five years of professional experience in financial services or the practice of law (with a focus on income tax and/or estate planning), OR
  4. Have four years of relevant professional financial services experience and an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution

Maintaining the ChSNC® designation requires Continuing Education (CE) credit and an annual Professional Recertification fee.

Tuition & Fees

Tuition for ChSNC® courses include all fees and study materials, examinations, and access to online learning tools. Course tuition breaks down as follows:

  • HS 375 & HS 376: $850
  • HS 377 (with live webinars): $1,100

Enroll in our 3-course package to receive a reduced tuition of $2,450 (a $350 discount).

For qualifying African American financial professionals, active-duty military personnel, veterans, and their spouses, as well as other groups, we offer scholarship opportunities that can further reduce tuition.

ChSNC® Curriculum

The ChSNC® program is a series of three courses designed to give you both a better understanding of what it means to live with and care for an individual with special needs and the financial planning issues and challenges their families and caregivers face. Through these courses, you’ll learn the best strategies for ensuring that families caring for an individual with special needs have the resources they need to live well and protect their loved one’s quality of life.

  • HS 375: Introduction to Disability and Lifetime Planning
  • HS 376: Legal and Financial Issues for Special Needs Families
  • HS 377: Financial Planning for Caring for Those with Special Needs

Required ChSNC® Courses:

HS 375 Introduction to Disabilities and Lifetime Planning

This course introduces students to the field of disability and provides an orientation to working with individuals with disabilities and their families. Coursework covers special education basics, relevant disability legislation, disability etiquette, collaboration with families, and lifetime planning. Topics addressed in HS375 include the various categories of disabilities (e.g., intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and intellectual disabilities) as well as lifetime planning considerations, such as: employment, housing, state waivers, social security benefits, and more. Required course for the ChSNC designation program, this is an introductory course and can be used as an elective in other programs. This introductory course equips advisors with the foundational tools necessary to be successful in HS376 and HS377.

HS 376 Legal and Financial Issues for Special Needs Families

This course covers unique legal techniques and tools that apply to special needs planning. Of particular importance are third-party funded special needs trusts created as part of an estate plan, wills, powers-of-attorney, guardianships, ABLE accounts, and self-settled special needs trusts established under federal and state law. The applicable issues surrounding Social Security and Medicaid are covered. In addition, special income tax topics enable financial advisors to understand and identify tax deductions and/or credits that may be available to families with special needs children and adults. It addresses some unique aspects of the medical expense deduction, the child and dependent care credit, the adoption credit, and the dependency exemption rules define a dependent for families of individuals with special needs. The student will examine some potential alternative minimum tax traps that may affect some of these families. This course builds upon Introduction to Disability (HS 375) by providing the detailed legal and financial considerations crucial to the special needs environment.

HS 377 Financial Planning for Families Caring for Those with Special Needs

Delivered as a live webinar, this course combines self-study material with an interactive learning experience. Team-taught by experts in the field, the course covers issues for special needs individuals who are minors as well as those who are adults. Topics include unique federal income tax issues, the creation and administration of special needs trusts, the ABLE Account, SSI, Medicaid, and disability-related issues. The course incorporates case studies covering both the financial and unique aspects encountered in a special needs planning engagement. Successful completion of this course requires passing the final examination. For an additional tuition amount, professionals who purchase the package will have an opportunity to take the capstone course in a live classroom setting.

Program Faculty

Thomas M. Brinker, Jr.

Adjunct Professor of Taxation and Special Needs Planning

ChSNC® Program Director

Director of the MassMutual Center for Special Needs

Mary Houser
Mary A. Houser

Educational Consultant

Kelsey LeFavour, Adjunct Professor of Special Needs Planning
Kelsey LeFevour

Adjunct Professor of Special Needs Planning

Lesley Mehalick, Adjunct Professor at The American College
Lesley Mehalick

Adjunct Professor of Taxation and Special Needs Planning


Professionals with the chartered special needs consultant (ChSNC®) credential from The American College of Financial Services are financial advisors specializing in the unique requirements of people with a disability and those requiring special needs financial planning and estate planning. A ChSNC® is able to set up special needs trusts and help with things like special needs planning for an individual’s present and future security, including long term care, retirement planning, life insurance, Medicaid, Social Security, and government benefits, as well as elements of financial planning for caregivers.

Students usually spend around 45 to 60 hours per course for each of the three courses in the ChSNC® program; each contains 14 weeks worth of material. Plan to spend somewhere between 135 to 180 hours over 12 months to finish the ChSNC®.

Upon enrolling in a ChSNC® course, students have a four-month window to complete the course, plus the remainder of the month in which they enrolled. No time limit exists on completing all three courses.

Program tuition for ChSNC® can be paid on a per-course basis, or at a reduced rate with a 3-course package. To see the options we offer, view the Tuition & Fees section.

There are no prerequisites required to take ChSNC® courses; however, in order to use the designation, you must successfully complete all three courses and have EITHER five years of professional experience in financial services or the practice of law (with a focus on income tax and/or estate planning) OR four years of relevant professional financial services experience and an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution. For more information, see the Requirements section.

To enroll in the ChSNC® program, contact an admissions advisor at 888-795-6306 or click here to begin our online enrollment process.

Many of The College’s courses are CFP Board approved and qualify for continuing education (CE) credit, but this varies by state and can change frequently. For more information specific to ChSNC®, check with your state regulators or visit our CE information page.

Our yearly fee for the Professional Recertification Program (PRP) is $125 for client-facing advisors and $50 for non-client facing professionals, and covers all designations earned from The American College of Financial Services. The recertification fee is paid in advance during the last quarter of the recertification year, by December 31, and will cover the following calendar year. Payment can be made through your online account with The College.

For more information, see our full listing of PRP FAQs.