Dear students, we are updating our phone systems on Tuesday 5/16/2023 in order to serve you better. For the best experience please listen closely to the options and make sure you have your student ID # ready. Check your portal homepage for more information.


ChSNC - Chartered Special Needs Consultant

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

Designation at a Glance


 $2,595 or less


Complete in 12 months or less


100% online, self-study

Learning Outcomes
  • Develop knowledge of the contemporary issues important to those with disabilities requiring special needs planning, including tax planning, special needs trusts, SSI, and other government benefits
  • Learn how to set individuals with disabilities 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, Medicaid eligibility complexities, and Social Security
  • 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 special needs planning, including special needs trusts and helping parents and caregivers plan for immediate and long term care, as well as wisely and compassionately guiding families through complex financial decisions like estate planning, beneficiary status, and eligibility for government benefits like Social Security 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®?

icon for Why ChSNC

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

icon for Why CHSNC

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

icon for why CHSNC

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

Program Details


There are no prerequisites for you to begin the ChSNC® program other than a high school diploma or the equivalent, 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

Participation in the annual Professional Recertification Program (PRP) is required to maintain the designation.  For more information, see our Continuing Education (CE) FAQ and PRP pages.

For further details on requirements for the ChSNC, view our FAQs.

Tuition & Fees

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

  • HS 375 & HS 376: $895
  • HS 377 (with live webinars): $1,150

Enroll in our 3-course package to receive a reduced tuition of $2,595 (a $345 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.

Annual participation in the Professional Recertification Program (PRP).

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 disabilities and the issues and challenges in special needs planning their families and caregivers face in guardianship. 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, including special needs trusts, ABLE accounts, estate planning and beneficiary status including elder law, Medicaid, power of attorney options, and eligibility for other government benefits like supplemental security income (SSI) and Social Security.

  • 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 Disability 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

Mary Houser
Mary A. Houser

Educational Consultant

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 disabilities and those requiring special needs 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, eligibility for government benefits like Medicaid and SSI, estate planning and beneficiary status including elder law, and special needs trusts and ABLE accounts, as well as elements of financial planning for caregivers or those with guardianship and power of attorney options.

Although there is no pre-requisite academic or financial services background to enroll in the program other than a high school diploma or the equivalent, students must understand that the ChSNC® program is designed to supplement a broader financial education. As a three-course program, it is designed as an introduction to the field of special needs planning. Ongoing education beyond completion of these courses is mandatory for every practitioner in the field. The program is not intended to be a stand-alone designation, but rather a specialization to complement a primary financial planning degree or designation, such as MSFS, MS in financial planning, ChFC, CFP, CPA, or JD/LLM.  The program and designation are viewed by the College as an area of specialization within a practitioner’s broader based financial planning education.

This program is offered at an advanced level meaning that the focus is on the application of the tools and techniques of financial planning with a focus on caring for those with special needs or disabilities. For example, when discussing income taxation, trust administration, guardianship, and estate planning implications, there is an assumption that the student has a basic understanding of the foundational rules in each area. To be successful in this program, students should have familiarity with:   

  • Stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other basic financial instruments
  • Individual income taxation, estate planning, and elder law
  • Employer-provided retirement plans
  • Individual retirement plans (IRAs and Roth IRAs)
  • The basic types of life insurance and annuity products
  • A basic understanding of long term care insurance and Medicaid
  • A basic understanding of Social Security, SSI, beneficiaries, and government benefits

Although any student may enroll in Huebner School courses, 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 for the designation that clearly identifies:

  • Successful completion of the courses numbered HS 375, HS 376, and HS 377
  • An approved application by the Registrar of The American College of Financial Services.
  • (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 LLM (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 Center for Special Needs Planning at the College 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 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

Students should expect to spend 5-8 hours per week for each of the courses in the ChSNC® program. Each course contains 14 weeks worth of material. This program can be completed in 12 months through continuous enrollment.

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.

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 $140 for client-facing advisors and $55 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.