Special Needs Planning includes planning for the present needs of a person with special needs. It also includes planning for needs after the primary care provider is no longer able to provide care. With advances in medical and social treatment for persons with developmental and other disabilities, comes greater longevity, and therefore a greater need for caregivers to do proper planning.
Estate and elder law attorneys are often employed to advise on eligibility for public benefits for the person with special needs, as well as to assist in planning to protect the eligibility. Financial Assistance Programs (i.e. public benefits) for persons with special needs include Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medicare, Affordable Care Act (ACA), Section 8 Housing (HUD), Veteran Benefits, and Food Stamps.
Frequently, special needs trusts are created to protect eligibility for public benefits. Special needs trust may be created by or on behalf of the person with special needs – such as when an individual receives a settlement as a result of an injury that is the cause of the disability – or they may be created by another person for the benefit of the person with special needs – as in when someone would like to leave an inheritance. The various kinds of special needs trust have different criteria, but generally operate to supplement the needs of the person with disability without supplanting any public benefits.