Special Needs Planning: Don’t Leave Your Child’s Future in the Hands of an Unpredictable Congress

Government programs are meant to provide assistance to our citizens. However, even programs that can mean the difference between life and death, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), can have their budgets cut, benefits reduced, qualifications tightened, or they can be eliminated entirely. These programs are basically left to the whims of Congress. That is one of the many reasons I encourage parents of children with special needs to have back up plans, so that there are always funds available to supplement, or replace, any benefits they are currently receiving.

However, your special needs plan must accomplish this goal legally, and in the right way. For example, due to your child’s health issues, Medicaid may be vital.    You know that you need a plan to ensure your child is taken care of when you are no longer around someday.  You attempt to accomplish this goal by setting up a will that leaves your estate to your child with disabilities when you pass away.  While that would indeed help your child financially, it would also backfire by causing the child to become ineligible for Medicaid and the health care benefits that he or she so desperately relies on.  While one problem would be solved by this strategy, a different situation would be made much, much worse.

Fortunately, you do not have to disinherit your child to achieve ALL of your planning goals.  After evaluating your unique situation, a special needs planning attorney may advise you to set up a Special Needs Trust.   Money or assets held in a Special Needs Trust are not technically in your child’s name, and therefore do not could toward eligibility for government benefits.  Using this legal tool, your child could enjoy the funds in the trust, without the fear of losing Medicaid or SSI.

Most parents want their children to have access to more than just the basic needs that are provided by Medicaid and SSI. They deserve recreation, transportation, proper dental care, companionship and much more. Having funds in a Special Needs Trust allows them to have the financial means to pay for these things. Plus, it gives them an added cushion so that if the programs on which your child depends is reduced or cut out completely, they’ll still be alright.

If you would like to talk about setting up a Special Needs Trust as part of a  plan that meets the unique circumstances that your family faces, call the Law Office of Sheri R. Abrams at (571) 328-5795 to set up an appointment. .

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