ChSNC - Chartered Special Needs Consultant

Why you should consider the ChSNC®

Families caring for a person with special needs face unique financial challenges. The Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) designation will provide you with the strategies and knowledge you need to help these families thrive.

Through the ChSNC® program, you’ll augment your current financial and interpersonal skills with specialized skills focused on helping parents and caregivers plan for immediate and long-term considerations. Learn to wisely and compassionately guide families through complex financial decisions and benefits systems so they can gain 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.

How Financial Advisors can be Advocates for Families Caring for Those with Special Needs

Special needs families need all the help they can get to prepare for the future. Learn how you can grow your practice and be their lifeline with our free guide.

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ChSNC®: Always by Your Side

ChSNC - Chartered Special Needs Consultant

What You’ll Learn

Bringing together the expertise of lawyers, financial planners, and psychologists, The ChSNC® is the only credential designed to prepare financial advisors to help people with special needs. Through the program, you’ll gain an in-depth knowledge of the best strategies for ensuring that families who are caring for a person with disabilities have the resources they need to live well.

Additionally, the ChSNC® will elevate your understanding of what it means to live with special needs so you can fully address the concerns, hopes, and goals of everyone who comes to you. For many who are caring for someone with special needs, just having an advisor who speaks the language makes a huge difference. The ChSNC® will prepare you to do just that. And give you a dynamic understanding of:

  • Disability law
  • Life insurance
  • Healthcare issues
  • Special needs trusts
  • The ABLE Act
  • Government benefits
  • Social Security
  • Medicaid complexities
  • Special education
  • Estate planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Tax deductions

Who Should Take the ChSNC®

The ChSNC® is designed for experienced financial advisors who want to gain the additional knowledge they need to make a real difference in the lives of people with special needs. It’s a good choice for any mid-career financial professional seeking to make a lasting difference.

Program Delivery

Designed for the Working Professional

The ChSNC® is an online program consisting of three courses.

The first two courses are offered in a self-study format, allowing you to learn the material and complete the courses at your own pace, while supported by robust online resources.

The final course is a live webinar.

Tuition & Fees

  • First two courses: $850 each
  • Third Course (live webinar): $1,100
  • Three-course package: $2,450 (savings of $350)

Tuition includes all required study materials, access to convenient online learning tools, your examination, and shipping fees.


Required ChSNC® courses:

  • 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 

View Course Details Below​


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.

The requirements to complete the Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) are:

  • Successful completion of the courses numbered HS 375, HS 376, and HS 377
  • An application for designation approved by the Registrar of The American College of Financial Services.

Any student may enroll in Huebner School courses, however usage of the designation and its mark, ChSNC®, are limited to those who have successfully completed the coursework and met the prerequisite standards established by the faculty. At a minimum, an individual must present an application that clearly identifies:

(a) 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

(b) Four years of relevant professional financial services experience and an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution.

In addition, consideration is given to those professionals currently working with families caring for those with special needs.

Individuals who hold professional credentials including CLU®, ChFC®, AEP®, CFP®, CPA, or academic degrees MS in Financial Services, MS in Financial Planning, MS/MT in Taxation, PhD in Financial Planning, JD and/or LL.M (in Taxation) who have met the sufficient experience requirements are eligible to use the designation after completion of the ChSNC® coursework.

The aforementioned experience requirements may be reduced or waived depending upon academic background and a petition to the Director of the ChSNC® Education Program requesting such a waiver. A course waiver may be available to those professionals with graduate academic coursework comparable to HS376 (i.e., income tax planning and estate planning at the graduate level). However, a petition must be filed with the Program Director. For those not meeting the educational and professional background required for the designation, a certificate in special needs planning will be conferred upon completion of the three course program.

ChSNC® designees must also adhere to The American College of Financial Services Code of Ethics and comply with The College’s Professional Recertification Program.

See the Student Resources and Policies page for comprehensive details on refund policies, learning policies, recertification information, and more.

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