Special needs planning entails financial and estate planning for a special needs individual, as well as estate planning for such individual’s parents or other family members desiring to provide for the special needs individual.
A “specialized” level of planning is necessary in order to assess the lifetime support needs of the individual and to protect the eligibility for social benefits such as SSI, Medicaid, etc.
The Oldham Law Firm, PLLC works with life care planners, geriatric care managers, and social benefit program coordinators in order to ensure the proper care and custody of the special needs individual, as well as, maximize the financial support options for such individual.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI is the basic federal safety net program for the elderly, blind and disabled, providing them with a minimum guaranteed income. Effective January 1, 2006, the maximum federal SSI benefit is $603 a month for an individual and $904 a month for a couple (the amounts go up every January 1). These amounts are supplemented in most states.
Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the program, eligibility for SSI benefits is based on financial need alone, not on how long you have worked or how much you have paid into the Social Security system. However, the financial eligibility rules are quite stringent. If you are seeking SSI benefits because you are disabled, the program’s criteria for determining disability are the same as those outlined in the Social Security disability section.
About 6.6 million persons were receiving SSI payments in December 2000. Fifty-seven percent of these recipients were between the ages of 18 and 64, 30 percent were aged 65 or older, and 13 percent were under age 18. Many older persons who are not eligible for Social Security retirement benefits because they have not accumulated enough work credits may nevertheless be eligible for SSI, and even many of those receiving Social Security retirement benefits may be able to supplement their benefits with SSI payments. It is estimated that 1.5 million elderly who are potentially eligible for benefits never apply for them.
Supplemental Needs Trusts and Planning for Disabled Children
Planning for Disabled Children Americans are living longer than they did in years past, including those with disabilities. According to one count, 480,000 adults with mental retardation are living with parents who are 60 or older. This figure does not include adult children with other forms of disability nor those who live separately, but still depend on their parents for vital support.
When these parents can no longer care for their children due to their own disability or death, the responsibility will fall on siblings, other family members, and the community. In many cases, expenses will increase dramatically when care and guidance provided by parents must instead be provided by a professional for a fee.
Planning by parents can make all the difference in the life of the child with a disability, as well as that of his or her siblings who may be left with the responsibility for caretaking (on top of their own careers and caring for their own families and, possibly, ailing parents).