Planning for a child with disabilities

Your Downers Grove Disability Attorney Represents Families
doctor and parent with special needs childParents 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.

Besides applying for disability benefits and health care insurance, parents may wish to set up a special needs trust for children so that they may take advantage of valuable programs in their lives that have income and assets restrictions. Trusts are devices where you may be able to leave something to your disabled child without disqualifying him or her for benefits. Downers Grove Social Security lawyer Mary L. Collins has many years of experience in helping children and families obtain the assistance they need.

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 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 lifelong, this will help you when your child applies for benefits at age 18.

Adult children disabled throughout their childhoods 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 Downers Grove disability attorney Mary L. Collins 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 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 her disability law practice, Mary L. Collins drafts wills and trusts for families to help them plan for their future. Working with her and her knowledgeable staff 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 Downers Grove disability attorney Mary L. Collins to discuss the options available to you and your child.