Chartered Special Needs Consultant®

Planning for Families With Special Needs

About ChSNC®

The American College of Financial Services provides financial services professionals with the technical, collaborative and quantitative skills necessary to help clients with special needs through the Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) designation. The ChSNC® is the only credential on the market designed to provide special needs families with an advisor competent to address their unique concerns.

ChSNC® designees are equipped with the specialized skills needed to help parents and caregivers plan for the future with honesty, ethics, and compassion. A ChSNC® can navigate the unique considerations, estate planning, special needs trusts, life insurance, tax deductions, healthcare issues, Medicaid complexities, and the emotional aspects of providing for a loved one with a disability.

That robust planning foundation is expanded through the specialized content of three courses that narrow and sharpen their focus on the needs of people with disabilities and other special needs.

At this time the Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) designation program is unable to accept new student enrollments. See the FAQ below for more information.

Who Should Consider the ChSNC®?

Financial planning professionals who want to take their existing expertise and apply it to this curriculum to enhance the quality of life of families with special needs. The designation is targeted as an advanced designation for experienced and dedicated planners who want to serve this market, either as a portion or the majority of their book of business. In addition to completing the coursework, a ChSNC® designation holder must meet professional and educational experience requirements.

Families with unique financial and life planning needs require an advisor with a credential they can trust. The ChSNC® is the only credential primarily focused on providing financial services for this expanding, underserved population

Globally, there are more than 1.3 billion people with a disability; in the United States alone, one-in-five Americans have a disability. The aging baby boomer generation is also adding to the size of this demographic. Among those who are caregivers, nearly two-thirds are very concerned about outliving their retirement income and 55 percent are unaware how to establish a lifetime financial plan for their special needs dependent.

Families and caregivers of persons with special needs require the support of a financial professional who is well versed in such unique issues as:

  • Special education
  • Family dynamics
  • Emotional and language considerations
  • Disability law
  • Special needs trusts
  • Life insurance
  • Government benefits
  • The ABLE Act
  • Estate planning
  • Retirement planning for three people

The ChSNC® brings together the expertise of lawyers, financial planners and psychologists to give designation-holders a comprehensive understanding of the needs of their clients. Caregivers routinely say they need professionals who understand their challenges and their environment — who speak their language. It’s more than financial education. The ChSNC® prepares advisors to help clients who are currently underserved.


Introduction to Disability (HS 375)
This course introduces students to the field of disability and provides an orientation to working with individuals with disabilities and their families. It covers philosophical approaches, legislation, special education policies and procedure, disability etiquette, and how to work collaboratively with families. Students will learn the categories of disabilities such as emotional and behavioral challenges, sensory impairments, autism, and learning disabilities. Special attention is given to the planning requirements for transition of a child with disabilities into adulthood, when many educational programs and financial supports are no longer available. It also provides videotaped interviews with families in their home settings, providing powerful testimonies to the families’ determination to assist their children to become fully integrated into society and to reach their full potential.

Legal and Financial Issues for Special Needs Families (HS 376)
This course covers unique legal techniques and tools that apply to special needs planning. Of particular importance are special needs trusts, wills, powers-of-attorney, and guardianships. 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. It addresses some unique aspects of the medical expense deduction, the child and dependent care credit, the adoption credit, and the dependency exemption rules for families of individuals with special needs. The student will examine some potential alternative minimum tax traps that may affect many 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.

Financial Planning for Special Needs Families (HS 377)
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 public and private health care issues, Medicaid, long-term care, and disability-related issues. The course incorporates special needs scenarios and case studies covering both the financial and emotional aspects of special needs planning. 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.

Tuition: $785 (per course)
Live Webinar Capstone: $980
Retake/Reschedule Fee: $125

Your tuition includes all required study materials, access to convenient online learning tools, and your examination.

  • Two self-study courses supported by robust online learning capabilities.
  • Final course is a live webinar.

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, any individual must present an application that clearly identifies:

(a) At least five years of professional experience in financial services or the practice of law, or

(b) Four years of professional financial services experience and an undergraduate degree.

Individuals who hold the CLU® or ChFC® designations, the CFP®, MSFS, and/or who have met the sufficient experience requirements are eligible to use the designation after completion of the ChSNC® coursework.

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 handbook and policies page for comprehensive details on refund policies, learning policies, recertification information, and more.

What is changing in the ChSNC® program?
The Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) designation program is currently unable to accept new student enrollments. The program is under review and no further students will be admitted while The College determines the future of the program.

Why is this change happening to ChSNC®?
The College is continually evaluating its designations and courses to ensure each one meets the needs of the student population, and that The College is able to support each program with sufficient resources and assure the program is consistently meeting high-quality standards.

Unfortunately, at times this means that we will discontinue designations due to lack of interest or because they require continuing resources that are unsustainable for The College.

The College is currently evaluating the ChSNC® program, so no further new student enrollments into the designation are currently being accepted. This evaluation is expected to conclude by the end of 2018.

I am pursuing the ChSNC® at the time of the program change. How am I affected?
If you are already enrolled in the ChSNC® program on or before June 30, 2018, you may continue to work toward your designation.

Students enrolled in the ChSNC® program prior to July 1, 2018, will have an 18-month window to complete the ChSNC® designation under the existing program requirements. In-progress ChSNC® students will have until December 31, 2019, to complete the ChSNC® designation. If you do not finish your ChSNC® within this 18-month window, you will be unable to earn the designation.

The College will award the ChSNC® designation to students who successfully complete the program requirements as of December 31, 2019.

If I have or will earn my ChSNC®, must I continue to participate in the Professional Recertification Program after December 31, 2019?
Yes. The American College of Financial Services requires all of its designation holders to recertify their designation by completing an annual ethics check-in, ongoing continuing education, and by paying a modest recertification fee. More information about the Professional Recertification Program can be found at

Will The College continue to offer resources to individuals with the ChSNC® designation?
As part of the ChSNC® program evaluation, there is a plan to support the continued creation of educational content for special needs planning through The American College MassMutual Center for Special Needs. This is intended to occur regardless of the outcome on the future of the ChSNC® designation.

Program Faculty

Thomas M. Brinker, Jr.

Adjunct Professor of Taxation and Special Needs Planning
Director, MassMutual Center for Special Needs

Professor Ted Kurlowicz
Theodore T. Kurlowicz

Charles E. Drimal Professor of Estate Planning
Professor of Taxation

Questions about ChSNC®?