CHILDREN DISABILITY CLAIMS
DuPage County's Experienced Disability Attorney
Your Downers Grove Disability Attorney Represents Families
Planning for the future of your disabled child: Special needs planning involves much more than trusts.
• What can I be doing to prepare for the time my child becomes 18 years old? What services might be available and how does s/he qualify?
• How do I plan for his/her financial future: the part that a special needs trusts/supplemental needs trust plays in your child’s access to benefits. Information on new ABLE accounts
Parents of a child with a disability need to know that there may be financial assistance available to help them raise their special needs child. Disabled children may be eligible to receive SSI if they meet the Standards of Disability from Social Security and if the family income and assets meet the eligibility requirements. The standards for disability for children are different from those for adults.
Many families are not prepared for the transition into adulthood. We offer our expertise in how to organize the information you have on your child; the importance of Transition Programs if your child is in Special Education Programs; and understanding the benefits of your child becoming eligible for Social Security under the Parent’s benefits. Understanding the basis of the programs and what will be required and asked of you as your child enters adulthood is vital to providing the best possible outcome when you are not able to care for your child anymore.
We provide information on how your child’s earnings through employment can affect their right to receive benefits on your social security account. There is a fine line between the importance of your child’s feeling success through work and their ability to maintain employment that will support them in their lifetime.
I can explain why a special needs trust may help your child take advantage of valuable programs in their lives that have income and asset restrictions. Trusts are devices where you may be able to leave something to your disabled child without disqualifying him or her for benefits.
If a trust is not drafted with the appropriate provision, the assets you leave your child can lose their exemption under the Social Security Rules. If monies are disbursed from the Trust and the distribution is not allowed by the Social Security Rules it may also violate the Law. I have successfully represented clients in disputes with the Social Security Administration. We try to give our clients a full understanding of these Trusts and how they operate so they do not run up against the Administration.
Social Security Benefits for Minor or Adult Children
A minor child is eligible for SSI or disability benefits if he or she meets the Social Security Administration eligibility requirements:
• The child must have a physical or mental condition, or combination of conditions, resulting in “marked and severe functional limitations” which seriously limit the child’s activities
• The condition must be disabling or expected to be disabling for 12 months or more, or expected to result in death
Income is also a factor for a child to qualify for SSI benefits as it is with adults. The child must not earn more than the limit set by the Social Security Administration, which changes annually. Again, the family income and assets are considered in determining eligibility. Your child’s disability, whether you apply for SSI or not, should be carefully documented over time. If your child’s impairment will be life long, this will help you when your child applies for benefits at age 18.
Adult children disabled throughout their childhood may be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance based on their parent’s Social Security earning record. It is important to understand how all these programs work in order to protect your child’s eligibility for benefits. Contact our office to learn your options.
Special Needs Trusts
Minor children who qualify to receive SSI benefits must not have income that exceeds the set standard, and children who receive money or assets in excess of this amount may become ineligible. Proper estate planning using legal wills and trusts is essential for parents of a child with a disability. If a parent or relative wishes to gift the child money, property, or other assets, the parent or relative can use a special needs trust, also known as a supplemental needs trust or SSI trust.
A special needs trust means that money is held in trust for the benefit of the child, who is the beneficiary. A trustee will run the trust, and a trustee has fiduciary duties to the beneficiary. This means the trustee is legally accountable to properly maintain the trust and appropriately pay out the money in the special needs fund. The trustee can be any responsible person such as a parent or family member, or the trustee can be a professional such as an attorney or financial advisor. The trustee will distribute money from the trust to the disabled child, and the income to the child will not affect the child’s eligibility for governmental benefits and health insurance.
A Special Needs Trust funded with the money of the Disabled Child/Adult
If a person who qualifies for Disability or who may qualify for Disability/SSI (often minor children who are disabled but do not meet the financial requirements of SSI) receives a settlement due to injury or inherits money from Grandpa Joe or is due monies as the result of a Marital Settlement Agreement, you may need to discuss the option of a “First Party” Special Needs Trust. These trusts are often referred to as payback trusts or (d)(4)(C) trusts. These trusts are established with the assets of the person with a disability. They must be irrevocable and upon the disabled person’s passing, any debts to the state’s Medicaid agency must be paid back. These trusts are available to anyone up to age 64 and there are restrictions as to who can create the trust. It is a good idea to discuss this option so as to be prepared if the disabled person inherits money from others, is involved in a lawsuit or comes into money which is in his or her name.
A Personal and Caring Law Firm
Parents of children with special needs may worry about what is going to happen to their children after they are gone. In my practice, I draft wills and trusts for families to help them plan for their future. Working with our office to execute valid estate planning documents will give parents a peace of mind in knowing their affairs are in order and their child will be able to maintain the best possible quality of life. Contact our office to discuss the options available to you and your child.
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