Why We Do What We Do
Life is more complicated when you, your child, or another close family member has a disability…
…but not simply because you have a disability. Society – our communities, cities and towns – have not been designed for people with disabilities. If they were, then half of all people with disabilities would not be unemployed, special education wouldn’t be so “special” and government programs and supports wouldn’t be so difficult to understand, navigate and secure.
Society hasn’t been designed with you in mind.
Individuals with disabilities are marginalized in society, often ignored or treated as objects of charity. And so are their families. A family’s finances can be severely impacted, forcing them to do more with less. While other families expect their children to eventually support themselves financially, parents of children with disabilities are faced with constant uncertainty as to how their children will support themselves. How will their son or daughter fare once they are too old or frail to parent? How should parents arrange their affairs to safeguard their child’s future after they die?
Parent concerns go beyond the safety and financial security of their children; it is about quality of life. When they find out their child has Autism, Down Syndrome, Fragile X or Cerebral Palsy, parents might find themselves mourning the loss of the life they dreamed of for their child. Yet, it becomes evident that disability does not remove the possibility of a meaningful, engaging life. Disability does not condemn people to the sidelines.
Disabilities do not marginalize people. The mechanisms of society and prejudicial beliefs marginalize people with disabilities. Schools, businesses, government, transportation and all manner of services are not designed with people with disabilities in mind. Barriers to access that could have been avoided in the design phase are cemented into the fabric of virtually every aspect of daily living. Accommodations are sometimes bolted on after the fact. Disabilities don’t prevent access, engagement and inclusion; it’s our society’s tangible and intangible structures and norms that thwart efforts to engage, contribute and participate.
The financial advice people with disabilities and their families need is vitally absent from the marketplace.
The financial services sector is no exception. Financial professionals are not expected to understand the unique needs of people with disabilities and their supporting family members. Professionals do not need to understand these needs before they can secure a license, certification or designation in the financial sector. Most still do not understand the Registered Disability Savings Plan anywhere near to the same extent as they understand other types of accounts like the RRSP, TFSA or RESP.
Ironically, government programs and services specifically created to assist people with disabilities, are astoundingly complex. The policies, eligibility criteria, restrictions, and requirements are so difficult to navigate. The program complexities minimize access to needed assistance for people and families who already face so many accessibility issues in daily life.
Individuals with disabilities, parents of children with disabilities, and other family members have enough to deal with on a day-to-day basis without having to figure out how to tackle the complex financial, government and legal maze set before them.
We do what we do so people with disabilities and their families can focus on the pursuit of living
If clients worry less about financial challenges and feel confident the financial resources will be there to provide for their child, especially after they’re gone, then we have provided real value.
The reality is, while there are government programs like the Ontario Disability Support Program, tax saving opportunities, including the disability tax credit, and savings opportunities, particularly the Registered Disability Savings Plan, they are far more complex than what most people have to deal with.
Each day, there are adults with disabilities in Ontario losing their government disability income benefits because they have “too much” money. The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) maintains strict limits on the amount of assets a person can have and the amount they can receive from different sources, including employment income, gifts and funds from a trust. Exceed these limits and you risk losing ODSP benefits and possibly owing money to the government.
Hundreds of thousands of Ontarians need the financial support ODSP provides, but it isn’t enough. On its own, ODSP income benefits fall 30% below the poverty line.. Supplementing ODSP benefits is a must to maintain even the most basic living standards. Supplementing ODSP benefits is difficult because of the program’s financial restrictions. But it isn’t impossible. There are exceptions to these rules. These exceptions are the gateway to legitimately supplementing ODSP benefits without jeopardizing eligibility. Too many people are not aware of the exceptions, are not told about them when they really need them, and/or find them too confusing to navigate.
Our focus is two-fold:
- Help clients qualify for and maximize the benefits government programs offer.
- Help clients effectively supplement government disability income benefits, without jeopardizing program eligibility.
For more than a decade, we have spent our time and energy understanding the granular details of government programs, architecting effective strategies, and providing supporting financial investment and insurance services that help our clients maximize their own resources and government entitlements. We act as the bridge that orchestrates the integration between our clients’ financial resources and government disability programs and benefits.
We do what we do so individuals with disabilities and their families have more agency to live better lives.
Those with financial clout are listened to. Accommodating people with disabilities will not happen simply because accommodations are legislated. This is not simply about ramps and wider doorways. It is about business, government and average individuals realizing the value of designing a better world, a different world, one that produces products and services in virtually every industry that can be used by everyone, including people with disabilities.
Money is not the endgame; quality of life, dignity, and fair treatment is the what’s important. Financial strength is just one piece to help with what’s important. But it is a critical piece.
We do what we do because the financial advice people with disabilities and their families need is largely absent from the marketplace.
Our firm focuses exclusively on serving people with disabilities and their families. The complexity involved demands this level of focus. All our clients (except for a few) either have a disability or have a relative with a disability. Our business does not “accommodate” people with disabilities; it is designed for people with disabilities and their families. The accommodations we make are for clients who do not have a disability.
We are not out to make money on the backs of people with disabilities and, while we are charitable, we are not a charity, we do not cloak our efforts as charitable or pretend to occupy a morally elevated position. We do not see our clients as “less than” or “more than”. We see them as clients.
We provide needed services that improve the financial health of our clients at a fair cost. We work hard to provide these services, fairly and ethically, putting our clients’ needs first, but not at the expense of our firm’s needs, through the exchange of services for reasonable compensation. If you feel you might benefit from our assistance and would like to discuss your circumstances, please contact us. It starts with a conversation.