October is Special Needs Law month.
Special needs law is a complex area of the law and requires legal advice from an experienced practitioner. If you have a child, or adult family member with special needs, knowing what benefits and services are available to them, and how to protect those benefits as they age, is important. Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI), Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Medicare are all programs available to a disabled person, dependent upon work history. A person with special needs who is deemed disabled may have a combination of benefits, and its important that the special needs client and their family understands the rules to avoid lost of benefits, or a reduction in benefits.
As a member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners, I work to stay current on all the changes that would affect my special needs clients. Some of the situations that might arise that would require the assistance of a special needs planner attorney might be:
- A disabled special needs child turning 18. When the child legally becomes an adult in the eyes of the law, parents need to review the options available to them for remaining involved in their child’s health care, and financial decision making.
- A disabled special needs person receives an inheritance, or a personal injury settlement. I can review the options they have to preserve those funds for later use, and keep their benefits.
- A family member wants to leave an inheritance to a disabled special needs relative. I can help them put together an estate plan to establish a special needs trust that can be used to provide an enhanced quality of life, while maintaining benefits that cover food shelter and medical care.
- A change in circumstance that might affect benefits. A change in the living situation, decision to try working, purchase of a home, becoming a beneficiary of a special needs trust- all things that must be reported to Social Security. I can help with the reporting to make sure there the proper documentation provided.
- Finding out your are now a trustee of a special needs trust. As a trustee, you should get the counsel of a special needs attorney to find out your obligations to the beneficiary, how you can use the trust to improve quality of life, and most of all what you shouldn’t do that can adversely affect any benefits the beneficiary currently receives. Again, the rules are complicated and confusing so seek legal advice before you begin making distributions!