Connect the Dots 4 Life
Dennis Burns (515) 267-2676
4401 Westown Parkway, Suite 300
West Des Moines, IA 50266


For Parents and their Loved One(s) with Special Needs and/or Disabilities

If you are parents of, or, a person with Special Needs and/or Disabilities, you are why Connect the Dots 4 Life exists.   We are financial professionals in West Des Moines, IA, and serve such families across the state.  We are uniquely knowledgeable and connected in the Iowa Special Needs Community.

You have many unique challenges. And, eventually it all evolves around money.  For example:

  • Will they need Medicaid and/or SSI?  What about Waivers? 
  • Do they have the Income Potential (short and long-term) to ensure the Quality of Living you want for them?
  • What would happen if you were no longer able to take an active financial role in your loved one's life?  What about you no longer being able to provide a lot of the services your loved one needs?
  • Have you done enough to prepare for your own retirement? 
  • Have you thought about your Will?  How do you treat all of your loved ones fairly when one of them may need more help than the others?
  • Do you know the common mistakes parents make, sometimes even with the advice of a financial advisor?
  • Do you know all of the unique financial opportunities that exist for someone who is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

Most likely you don't know what you don't know, whether that is likely mistakes or missed opportunities.  For example, did you know if your Will or Retirement Accounts, Life Insurance, Annuity Payments, etc. have your loved one named in them, then Iowa Medicaid Enterprises will be first in line on those accounts if they receive(d) Medicaid? 

If you say you don't have a Will, actually, you do.  The State has laws for how your assets are divided. Your loved one is unlikely to receive their inheritance. Not only might they not receive it, they could lose the benefits they do receive. That is only one of the many mistakes such parents make. 

For provider individuals growing as a Value-Added Resource (VAR) for their families:

There are thousands of provider individuals who take great pride in the way they serve their clients and families.  You seek every opportunity you can to deliver additional value to them.  You regularly attempt to be a Value-Added Resource.  Since you know how complex some things are, this is a never-ending journey.

You help their families become educated on important issues.  You provide information, resources and referrals beyond the scope of your job definition.  You study the family and seek peer, topical and best-practice networking opportunities that add value.  You are Navigators, Mentors, and Coordinators in the truest sense of the word.   You will like working with us.  We can be a Value-Added Resource for you in many ways. 

Why choose us?

We are a Value-Added Resource for you and your family.  One you will be glad you have. We believe that our focus knowledge, processes and tools can add value to what you are already doing.

We can deliver Value-Added Resources.  We have a network of relationships.  We serve on the boards of directors of non-profit providers with a large footprint in Central Iowa. We can have open discussions with executives of most Value-Added Providers in Central Iowa and many others throughout the state.  We have established relationships with other relevant professionals and Value-Added Resources.

We can provide financial information and services.  We understand Medicaid, SSI/SSDI, Waivers, countable and non-countable assets, how to define a vision for your loved-one's future, investment, distribution, accounts and/or financial strategies for people qualifying under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  We know how to do all of that from a financial strategies standpoint. 

We can be a real Value-Added Resource for you.  Even if you already have a financial professional, you should choose us.  For example, we believe that if your financial professional was your sister, and she knew the added value we provide, she would encourage you to work with us. Over time, she may refer other clients. 

Why? Because the relationship is different.  You have a unique situation and we have unique value. 

Our history and future

Independent Living is a goal for many people in this community.  Income potential (short and long-term) is an important determinant of that.  Dennis needed help for a while so he could get back on his feet.  Not everyone has income potential like Dennis.  That doesn't mean you don't want them to have a decent Quality of Living.

From financial success to ruins caused by a disability:

In 1987, Dennis graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor's Degree in Economics and Finance. He spent some time on Wall Street and came back to Iowa to run a very successful business with 17 employees and contractors and he owned investment property. 

Ten years after graduation, in 1997, Dennis became disabled.  Over the next 8 years, he spent most of his time inside the walls of Mayo Clinic, including one 3 year stretch after he lost his ability to walk.  In 2005, he left Mayo and went home to live with his parents in Grafton, ND.  As Dennis likes to say, “population 8”.  He was bankrupt and had already reached his maximum lifetime out of pocket medical costs.  He was broke, unemployed, and trying to recover as a person with disabilities.  This is not much of a Quality of Living.

Learning to live independently again:

Dennis had to figure out what services were available and how to get them.  He first did this for himself and a few friends.  Then, in 2007, his brother Darren came down with Spastic Parapalygis and Dennis needed to navigate the waters for him.  So, Dennis renewed his financial licenses and helped Mass Mutual in Des Moines start a financial consulting division for families with a person with Special Needs.  His mom moved to Des Moines to be with him and became a provider at Easter Seals of Iowa, where Dennis just recently completed his second and final term as a member of the Board of Directors.  Dennis is currently Treasurer and a member of the Board of Directors of ASK Resource Center (Access Special Kids) and is also in his 2nd year as a member of the Board of Directors of CANDEO.

Dennis became independent and joined Equitable Advisors as a financial professional.  By 2012, Dennis organized a network of Value-Added Resources and quality Provider organizations and individuals.  Connect the Dots 4 Life was born.  Dennis developed and continued to refine the Quality of Living approach. He began introducing individuals and families to a network of people who added value. 


In 2015, Dennis took a single page visual to a number of executives in non-profit providers to the Iowa Special Needs Community to begin a dialog.  He were asked to present to their front-line providers and to conduct sessions for their client parents.  The demand was overwhelming and prompted nemerous speaking events on how and why the financial system operates in the disabilty and special needs space. 

Our approach and process

Step 1, We begin with education.  How do you know what you should do if you don't know the rules or some of the options you have? Many parents get frustrated with the processes required to get their loved one what they need.  We make sure you get and stay informed, as well as capture as many of the right moves as possible.

Step 2, Discovery.  We want to know a lot about you.  So, it is important that we work together as we try to understand your situation and as we get to know you on a personal level.  Once we know you and your situation, we may also refer you to others who can bring Value-Added Services that you may not currently have or be aware of.  We only make our living as financial professionals, not through referrals.  Therefore, we are not a referral service.   If we make a referral, you are not in any way required or expected to hire or work with any individual whose names we provide.

We have the opportunity to provide a diversification of financial products.  Since we are financial professionals who only makour living by managing our client's money, we choose to work with Equitable Advisors.  Why?  Because its affiliate, Equitable Network and strategic relationships give us access to an open-architecture-platform so we can get you what you need/should have.  That means, we have access to an array of investment and insurance products from hundreds of the top investment and insurance companies.  As you will see from everything we do, we have a team approach.  You get access to some of the best Value-Added Resources on nearly every topic.

We develop our financial strategy using knowledge and tools.  For example, we have tools for every step of the relationship process.  Many of them were developed and copyrighted by us to integrate the uniqueness of the Special Needs and/or Disabilities with financial and legal opportunities and rules.  These tools incorporate financial-industry-standard tools to provide financial strategies, risk management, asset allocation, asset relocation, retirement planning, retirement distribution strategies, legacy design and funding, risk tolerance & time horizon analysis, estate planning strategies, etc..

Those are only some of the tools that make us a Value-Added Resource.  We also have tools to help you think through how to define and fund a better Quality of Living for your loved one with Special Needs and/or Disabilities, tools to help prepare you for the desired legal documents, tools to help you analyze your current situation, tools to help you plan for your other children's college education, tools to help your provider be a more Value-Added Resource for you, etc.

You matter to us. We will continually review and revise your plans with you as time and conditions change.  We will show you strategies to optimize your results.  We will continue to work with you as you strive to improve the Quality of Living you want for your loved ones, as well as for you.