mother with special needs child

Are my special needs child’s benefits at risk?

It is often a long, drawn-out process to get your adult special needs child to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), MassHealth (Medicaid) benefits, food stamps, and housing subsidies she or he deserves. You should be aware that, unless you have a reputable special needs attorney establish a legally binding special needs trust, these essential funds and services could be threatened somewhere down the line.

What might endanger my special needs child’s benefits?

There are a number of things that may endanger your special needs child’s government benefits and destabilize his/her life. It is crucial that you have a clear understanding of the situation so that you can protect your offspring during your lifetime as well as after you pass away. The following have to be handled with care so they don’t jeopardize your child’s eligibility for the assistance needed to lead a comfortable life:

  • Inheritances
  • Monthly allowances
  • Gifts 
  • Personal injury settlements

In order to qualify for SSI, your child must have a very limited income and few assets. The Social Security administration (SSA) requires SSI recipients who are single to have less than $2,000 in assets, and couples to have less than $3,000. 

Can my child work while receiving SSI benefits?

While your child is allowed to work and still receive SSI, the amount earned must be reported to the SSA and deductions will be made from monthly SSI benefits if the income is over a certain amount ($794 monthly in 2021). The rules regarding how much money can be received while receiving SSI are complex and confusing. You really need the services of an experienced special needs attorney to help you decipher and adhere to the specific rules.

What does SSI consider as countable income?

Unlike the rest of us, the Social Security Administration counts not only wages, but all of the following, as “income”:

  • Unemployment benefits
  • Social Security retirement checks
  • Gifts from friends
  • Free food or shelter
  • Alimony

Resources that Are Not Counted as Income by Social Security

On the other hand, SSI does not include:

  • The recipient’s home and land 
  • One vehicle, regardless of value, if used for transportation
  • Household goods and personal effects 
  • Life insurance policies with a combined value of $1,500 or less
  • Burial expenses up to $1500

How the SSA Keeps Track of the Disabled Individual’s Finances

Approximately every 3 years, people receiving SSI must undergo a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) to make sure the recipient still meets eligibility requirements. Changes in health condition or prognosis, income or assets may alter eligibility status. Your special needs adult child’s benefits may be in jeopardy (temporarily or permanently) if any of the following apply:

  • Significant medical improvement
  • Recent change in the ability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA)
  • Incarceration for either a felony or misdemeanor 
  • Eligibility for retirement benefits 
  • Proven fraudulent reportage of assets or income
  • Significant increase in assets
  • Marriage to a spouse with assets above the limit

How to Make Certain Your Special Needs Child Keeps Her/His Benefits

As you can see, the government not only doesn’t make it easy to get benefits if you are disabled; it doesn’t make it easy to keep them either. Instead of worrying whenever your loved one has good fortune — e.g. shows significant medical improvement, receives a substantial gift, inheritance or legal settlement, or marries well — you should be able to just rejoice. With our special needs attorneys at your side, you will see how creating a special needs trust can make this happen. 

Contact Us Soon to Provide Your Special Child with Special Protection

Once we have created a special needs trust for your child and you have designated a reliable trustee, you can relax. You will be able to provide your child with supplemental support and comfort without disturbing her/his eligibility for government benefits. 

Imagine the pleasure of being able to provide funds for dinner at a nice restaurant, a vacation, or a luxury item without fear of jeopardizing economic stability! The sooner you call, the sooner we can ensure that your child’s future is protected.