I received a great call recently from a mum who has 3 daughters. The youngest daughter has moderate intellectual disability. She was standing in her kitchen with a cheque from the Revenue for €12,223 for a tax rebate claim and she thanked me about ten times for helping her to sort out the families personal finances. She is also still waiting to hear back regarding the Respite Care Grant, which is worth €1,700 each year to her family. I am confident she will get this also.

It was a nice feeling to know I made a difference to this family’s life, and going forward, they now have a financial plan that suites them. However, I later reflected on how sad it was to think of how much money they left behind in unclaimed benefits, entitlement and tax credits. This was because as the husband earned around €110,000 per year, they had assumed they were not entitled to any allowances or entitlements.

They never investigated and nobody ever told them what they were entitled to until I sat down with them. My hope is that the system will change. For example, when a doctor diagnoses a child with Down Syndrome, then automatically, an information pack, or a government agency employee, would arrive at the parents door to process the entitlements and benefits from day one.

But until my dreams become a reality, I urge every parent to double check that they are receiving what they are entitle to. Remember, with the additional financial pressures parents have to face raising a child with special needs, every penny counts.

This article was prepared by Allan Cuthbert, a Special Needs Financial Planner. If you have a financial question, feel free to email allan@financialwellbeing.ie or call 021 482 3635.