When your child has special needs or is developmentally disabled, it is important to plan ahead for both the parents and the well-being of your son or daughter. Effective planning from early on in the child’s life can help ensure a better quality of life and a more stable future overall. While this is important for all children, a child with special needs will require more thorough planning and an extensive record to for potential Social Security Disability (SSD) processing. Many attorneys, like those at Armstrong & Lamberti, PLLC, recommend that parents apply for childhood disability benefits before the child’s twenty-second birthday.

Record Keeping

The types of documents you should keep on record for your child in the case of disabilities or special needs can include but is not limited to: early intervention assessments; medical records including all medications prescribed, and a list of all medical providers that have ever delivered care to the child; psychology tests; IQ tests; Individualized Education Plans; Individualized Family Service Plans; physical and/or mental functional capacity assessments; teacher questionnaires; as well as a work history, if applicable. These records are very important for receiving benefits from the government or, potentially, local agencies.

Applying for SSI

    A child under 18 can also qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits; if they have special needs or a disability. To apply for this, the parents of the child must be within a specific level of income and assets held. SSI defines of a disability for children under 18 as a “medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which results in marked and severe functional limitations, and which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” A child on SSI benefits will be reevaluated at age 18 to see if they qualify for continued assistance at 18.

Creating a Special Needs Trust

    A Special Needs trust is set up to help a disabled person pay for care without losing their social security benefit eligibility. Someone with legal responsibility for the disabled person, such as a parent, can create this type of trust for them. This type of trust is a way to ensure that your loved one will have the money to receive care and achieve a better quality of life while reducing the risk of losing Medicaid or SSD benefits. The trust must state that it is intended to provide “supplemental and extra care” in addition to what the government will provide. It is not meant to be a basic support trust. The need for specific phrasing and language provided in the contents of the trust is one of the reasons you should meet with a knowledgeable lawyer to help you create it.

A Trusted Law Firm

In many cases, applying for government disability benefits to support your child can be an arduous task, and in some cases, almost impossible. It is important to work with a trusted law firm that is known for their work in helping families overcome these limitations; to ensure a better life for their special needs child.

    For more than 40 years, our firm has been helping people like you with their estate planning and administration needs — and we bring you the knowledge and resources to protect what is yours, and your family’s. Call 718.477.7700 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation with an estate planning attorney at Armstrong & Lamberti, PLLC. We proudly serve Staten Island, Brooklyn and the other boroughs of New York City.