It is important to discuss your estate planning objectives with a licensed attorney for a number of reasons. One of them is the simple fact that you may not understand all the different asset transfer devices that are at your disposal. The optimal way to get assets into the hands of one person may not be appropriate for the next.
This enters the picture when it comes to providing resources for a loved one with special needs. A significant percentage of people with disabilities cannot work, so they have very limited financial resources. Because of this, they qualify for need-based government benefits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is one of them. As the name would suggest, this program provides a modest but much-needed financial boost on a monthly basis. This year, the maximum monthly SSI benefit is $841, and it is $1,261 for an eligible couple.
Anyone who qualifies for this benefit is also going to be eligible for Medicaid, which is a source of health care insurance for folks with sparse resources.
Since these are need-based programs, a windfall of money could cause a loss of eligibility. This is why estate planning lawyers are very familiar with the Supplemental Security Income program.
If you want to provide for a loved one who is in this situation, you could establish and fund a supplemental needs trust.
You name a trustee in the trust declaration to act as the administrator, and the person who you want to help would be the beneficiary. The government benefits do not necessarily satisfy all the needs of the recipients. These are referred to as supplemental needs, and this is where the trust gets its name.
Under program rules, the trustee would be allowed to use assets in the trust to satisfy the supplemental needs. This would improve the beneficiary’s quality of life, and as long as no rules are violated, there would be no loss of eligibility for Medicaid and SSI.
Social Security Disability Insurance
SSDI is quite a bit different from the Supplemental Security Income program. When you work and pay FICA or self-employment taxes, you earn retirement credits that lead to eligibility for Social Security and Medicare. Under normal circumstances, these benefits would become available when you attain senior citizen status.
This being stated, you could potentially qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance at a younger age if you become unable to work due to a disability.
Since eligibility is based on your work history rather than your compromised financial status, there is no asset limit. You are also allowed to earn as much is $1350 a month without impacting your eligibility. Plus, you are entitled to any unearned income that you receive.
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