How employers can support the special needs community

Across the United States, one in five children and adults—that’s 65 million people—will experience a special need or disability during their lifetimes. Serving the special needs community is an extension of Voya's efforts to help all Americans have the quality of life they seek in retirement. As part of this effort, Voya is instituting pilot programs for financial advisors to specially train and arm them with the information and resources they need to better serve the needs of families facing disability challenges.

Understanding the complexities

Financial planning can be challenging, especially with the complex legal and governmental issues surrounding disability. While government assistance and entitlement programs can ease some of the money concerns of caregivers, the vast majority of expenses are borne by the family, and the rules behind federal support are often confusing and unrelated to costs.

People with special needs

Eye-opening impacts

According to Voya’s recent whitepaper Helping American families achieve financial security while facing special needs and disabilities challenges the outcome has a ripple effect. Without financial and educational assistance from the government, non-profit organizations, or their employers, caregivers are more likely to miss work due to illnesses brought on by the additional stress and fatigue caused by the financial difficulties of tending to people with special needs.1 Further, caregiving issues result in annual losses of at least $25.2 billion in productivity for American businesses because of absenteeism, workday disruptions, employees leaving the workforce, and other factors.2

People with special needs

A few ways you can help

  • Assume the role of “resource navigator”— providing one-stop educational access to resources, support, and education networks for caregivers.
  • Reduce emotional stress for employees by acting as an advocate for their concerns and helping them understand complex legal and financial issues.
  • Advance the dialogue and foster an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement. Managers should ask themselves, “Do I provide work schedules that are flexible and could potentially accommodate caregiver duties? Do my direct reports know they can feel comfortable opening up about their challenges and responsibilities?”
  • Offer flexible work schedules and eliminate biases toward performance or productivity.


To learn more about how you can help people affected by special needs, read Voya’s whitepaper Helping American families achieve financial security while facing special needs and disabilities challenges.  

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1AARP 2015 Report Caregiving in the U.S.

2Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Survey: Caregiving Costs U.S. Economy $25.2 Billion in Lost Productivity