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Loved Ones with Disabilities

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Families with disabled members experience unique financial challenges:

If you're a parent, sibling, or partner of someone with a disability, or if you are disabled, it's pretty much guaranteed that you spend a good deal of time thinking about medical care, finances, financial tools such as trusts, and extra services for you or your loved one.

Below is an overview of the most important questions that need to be asked and answered. Following that section, you’ll find a listing of some of the most important government benefits that are available to help support your loved one, your family - and you!

1. How can I plan for my loved one’s lifelong financial security?

  • What can I do to ensure that my loved one has their expenses paid for, even if I predecease them?
  • How should I distribute assets fairly among my children?
  • Do I need to set up a trust? If so, what type of trust? Who should be the trustee?
  • What's the best way to set aside money for my loved one, so that their government benefits aren't put at risk?
  • How can I best build my savings/investments to create a safe and positive future for my loved one?
  • Should I use a life insurance policy to fund a special needs trust? If so, which type of insurance?
  • Should I use a retirement plan or IRA to fund a special needs trust? Why not?
  • How can I ensure that my loved one is given lifelong opportunities for a gratifying, positive life?
  • What kind of future do I dream of for my loved one? What are the financial steps I can take to make that possible?
  • How can I ensure that my loved one will have a meaningful, happy and safe environment in which to live?
  • What is a letter of intent and what should I put in it?
  • Who should I name as a guardian and how do I financially support that guardianship?
  • What types of services should I consider for my loved ones to enrich their life and offer them needed support?

2. Government Benefits

It’s essential to tap into all the government benefits that are available to you and your loved one - and to not accidentally lose them by doing the wrong thing. But the tangle of bureaucracy and regulations can be overwhelming. To navigate the system it takes the help of an expert, because trial and error can lose you precious time and money. Here’s a brief overview of the five areas of government benefits which may be available to your loved one:

- Medical and healthcare benefits: Medicare and Medicaid assist in covering healthcare costs. Medicaid is a means-tested, state-administered, federally funded health insurance program. Medicare is a federal entitlement program for people with disabilities or for those 65 and older. (Note: I am certified and trained to help with the many Medicare questions you may have!) 

- Income benefits: Two federal programs that provide income to support your loved one:

  • SSDI: Provides income assistance to your loved one if they have been able to work in the past but have not been able to work for a minimum of 12 months. If a child’s parent retires, or becomes disabled or passes away, the child might become eligible for SSDI.
  • SSI: Provides income assistance to your loved one with special needs or disabilities if they fall below a minimum income guideline and have under $2,000 of assets.

- Educational and vocational benefits: Early intervention programs are important to support your child’s educational and vocational needs. These programs are available through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and section 504 Rehabilitation Act. These services are available for children from babyhood through the age of 22.

- Residential and housing benefits: Medicaid can help cover long-term care needs and housing as well as in-home care. Section 8 vouchers can help your family member live independently in a community. Group or assisted living housing is also supported at various levels for people with more intensive special needs. Support for paying for skilled nursing facilities may also be available.

- ABLE Act: Another important benefit comes from the ABLE Act. This allows qualified individuals with disabilities to save money in an account that is tax exempt and may be used for many qualified expenses, but doesn’t get in the way of their eligibility for federally funded public funds. There are limitations to how much money can be put into these plans annually ($16,000 in 2022) and an overall limit on the account balance ($100,000 for ABLE plus non-ABLE accounts in 2022) before it impacts government benefits. Watch this webinar from the ABLE National Resource Center to get a basic understanding of the ABLE Act: Welcome to #ABLEtoSave Month: An Orientation on What You Need to Know About ABLE


Now is the time!

If you or your loved one(s) are living with disabilities, it’s important to choose a financial advisor who truly understands the full range of services available to you–and can help you navigate the myriad of complexities you may encounter in your efforts to secure those services. As the father of a child with special needs, I understand many of these issues deeply. Expert help is almost a requirement when we are helping a loved one with a disability or disabilities. You need a skilled, knowledgeable and trained advisor who is allied with a team ready to give you legal and financial advice tailored for the challenges–and the joys and possibilities–inherent in your situation.

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