At the Tyrone Law Firm, we do all that we can to help families who have children with various special needs. We have dedicated members of our staff who have had to navigate a path for their own children and help provide quality resources. If you are a parent with a child with Cerebral Palsy or a hypoxic brain injury, we hope these posts will bring you new resources for you, your child, and your family.
In order to maintain your child’s disability benefits, establishing a Special Needs Trust (SNT) is very important. Many people have the misconception that this is free money and can be used for anything. Although assets are available to parents as needed, this is not the case. A SNT is used to help pay for things that government benefits will not cover and the person serving as trustee can make the decision to use the funds if needed. However, paying for certain things, such as food and shelter, may decrease the monthly amount of SSI.
There are many things that qualify as “non countable resources” that will not count toward a persons eligibility. Some of these resources are listed below:
- One home (value may be limited to qualify for non-SSI Medicaid)
- One vehicle (any vehicle, no matter the value)
- Home furnishings and personal items (these items have no limiting definition)
- Assets used toward occupational goals (under SSI’s Plan for Achieving Self-Support, the government allows specific assets toward an occupational goal, such as college or training)
- Burial and Life Insurance Policies (both are limited to $1,500)
Along with a list of non countable resources, comes a list of “countable resources.” These assets will count against your child’s monthly SSI benefits. A trustee should not give the beneficiary countable assets that are worth more than $2,000 per month. These include, but are not limited to:
- checking and savings accounts
- retirement accounts
- property that is not used for primary residence
A trustee must report monthly expenses and income to social security to determine the beneficiary’s monthly SSI and benefit qualifications. As a parent, your monthly income and assets will be used to calculate SSI and you must show proof, monthly. Occasionally, a review will be conducted, requiring bank statements, pay stubs and other proof of income. To apply for SSI, go to your local social security administration office. Typically, forms cannot be found online for this benefit.
If you would like to know more about Supplemental Security Income, or other resources for your family you can find SSI on the web at http://www.ssa.gov/disabilityssi/ssi.html. If our firm can ever help you or someone you know, please don’t hesitate to contact us at the Tyrone Law Firm.