MassMutual Helps Families Navigate Laws, Government Programs That Impact Care of Persons with Disabilities

Announces Chartered Special Needs Consultant Designation to Prepare Much-Needed Financial Services Experts; Gives Help and Hope to Families with Special Needs

Oct 28, 2010, 15:41 ET from MassMutual

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) today announced that a newly developed Chartered Special Needs Consultant (CSNC) designation, launched in conjunction with The American College, can better prepare financial services professionals to help families plan for their special needs children's future and bring peace-of-mind to their parents.

"Children with disabilities often outlive their parents and caregivers, and that may cause a lot of parents to worry about who will take care of their children when they're gone," said John Vaccaro, senior vice president of Sales & Distribution for MassMutual's network of financial professionals. "This trend is compounded by an increasingly complex set of laws governing the special needs life care planning process."

The CSNC curriculum initially is available only to MassMutual and its agents and grew from the company's SpecialCare(SM) program, which gives special needs families access to information, specialists, financial products and services that can help improve the quality of life for people with disabilities and special needs.

A rigorous set of three academic classes builds on an earlier training program that provided a Special Care Planner certification exclusively for MassMutual financial professionals. The new designation requires completion of several additional classroom hours and passing grades on a series of exams to test basic knowledge.

"Families with individuals who have disabilities often face very complex financial decisions, must deal with frequent changes in federal and state laws, and struggle with finding assistance from social support organizations. Financial professionals who work with these families simply must have specialized knowledge to provide adequate counsel," said Dr. Larry Barton, President and CEO of The American College. "This new special needs designation will be the premier educational program to help financial professionals meet the growing needs of families with special needs."

MassMutual has been reaching out since 2004 to the families of the over five million children with special needs in America* through its SpecialCare program and has experienced the quickly growing need for help with life care planning. Partly in answer to this growing unmet need, MassMutual has joined forces with Easter Seals to sponsor research on autism and adults with special needs, supported the development of a documentary on the issues that children with autism face upon becoming adults and has been providing educational resources to help parents and their children meet the challenges of life care planning.

"We are so firmly committed to getting special needs families the life care planning help they need that we are underwriting the curriculum development of the CSNC designation with the American College," said Joanne Gruszkos, founder and director of MassMutual's SpecialCare program. "MassMutual is working with The American College because it is the unquestioned leader in financial education."

Financial professionals who achieve the CSNC will have completed 120 hours of course study at the American College over three courses developed by recognized experts in the field.

The first course, being offered next month, is an introductory session developed to provide orientation to working with individuals with disabilities and their families. The subsequent two classes cover such topics as the importance of special needs trusts, taxation issues, wills, powers-of-attorney and guardianships and how to successfully incorporate the Special Needs Community into financial needs practice.

For more information about MassMutual's SpecialCare program visit MassMutual's SpecialCare resource center at

* According to the US Census Bureau's 2006 Americans with Disabilities report

About MassMutual

Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyholders. The company has a long history of financial strength and strong performance, and although dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual has paid dividends to eligible participating policyholders every year since the 1860s. With whole life insurance as its foundation, MassMutual provides products to help meet the financial needs of clients, such as life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, retirement/401(k) plan services, and annuities. In addition, the company's strong and growing network of financial professionals helps clients make good financial decisions for the long-term.

MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. MassMutual is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts and its major affiliates include: Babson Capital Management LLC; Baring Asset Management Limited; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC; The First Mercantile Trust Company; MassMutual International LLC; MML Investors Services, Inc., member FINRA and SIPC; OppenheimerFunds, Inc.; and The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB.

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Karen Lavariere-Sanchez


SOURCE MassMutual