Financial Resources and Planning:
Estate planning is part of the life care plan, and the complexity depends on your financial situation. Some families may be interested in tax savings advantages , establishing a third party special needs trust for the person with special needs, providing inheritances for their children in carefully crafted wills , and more.
Many parents want to name a guardians to care for the person with special needs after their death, or find that assigning durable powers of attorney and health care proxies are smart measures to take. Estate plans vary, and they are not only for the most affluent. Others may realize the need to purchase life insurance or change beneficiaries of policies already in place, and ensure that eligibility requirements for public benefits their loved one currently receives (or may receive in the future) continue to be met. Estate plans vary, and they are not only for the most affluent.
Caregivers routinely name their dependents with special needs as beneficiaries of life insurance and annuity contracts and distribute money in wills without understanding how these payments will impact the dependent’s eligibility for various government benefit programs such as SSI and Medicaid.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs based program available to people with disabilities. When a recipient of SSI receives a death benefit distribution, they are often shocked when the Social Security Administration audits their financial situation and terminates their SSI monthly payments and valuable corresponding Medicaid insurance benefits. SSI has very strict asset limitations and only allows their recipients to keep up to $2,000 in assets. A death claim payment can cause the immediate loss of these benefits, until the payment is spent down below the $2,000 SSI limit.
What steps can a caregiver take to preserve SSI and Medicaid?
Proper estate planning is crucial to ensuring eligibility for services. Establishing a special needs trust which is designed specifically to hold assets for a beneficiary with special needs so that the funds do not disqualify the recipient from needs-based government benefits is one way of accomplishing this. There are different types so it is critical that you consult with an attorney who specializes in doing planning for the disabled.
How does the service/topic help the person with a disability or family support system?
A properly structured and funded estate plan with the addition of a special needs trust will help ensure that a dependent with special needs can have the quality of life that they deserve. In addition, knowing that they will be provided for can give parents/caregivers the peace of mind to meet today’s challenges.
How may a parent/caregiver gain access to this service?
When it comes to making decisions and long term plans regarding a person who has a disability, it’s best
to seek experts. Just as you choose medical professionals who specialize in a particular disability or condition your dependent has, so too should you choose financial services professionals and attorneys who have the knowledge and experience to serve the needs of the special needs community. They are most aware of ever-changing law, regulations, benefits, and programs that can affect you.
Recommended websites, YouTube videos, books on this topic:
Massmutual.com: Mass Mutual. For their website Click Here
Specialneedsalliance.org: Special Needs Alliance. For their website Click Here
Specialneedsanswers.com: Special Needs Answers. For their website Click Here
When looking for this services are there any questions or observations you would recommend parents to investigate before selecting a provider?
What percentage of your practice is devoted to special needs planning? 100%, 50%, 10%? It is critical that this individual be an expert in the subject matter. The planner and attorney should be someone who has received advanced training and information in estate and tax planning concepts, special needs trust, government programs, and the emotional dynamics of working with people with disabilities and their families. Are they in the special needs community? Do they volunteer, sit on boards, public speaking, or in other ways to help or provide services for people with disabilities?
MassMutual SpecialCare brochure: When you’re better prepared for the predictable, the surprises can be less overwhelming – A helpful 10-point checklist for caregivers.
Written by: Douglas A. Vogel, Special Care Planner, MassMutual Special Care[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]