Proper estate planning is essential if you have a loved one with special needs. Without it, you may unknowingly disqualify them from receiving the government benefits they deserve. Our skilled and experienced Santa Barbara special needs trust lawyer can help you provide for your loved one without impacting their eligibility for benefits. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program that imposes a resource limit to determine eligibility. Leaving a cash gift or rental property to your loved one would jeopardize their ability to claim the SSI benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled. By establishing a special needs trust, they can have the best of both worlds: SSI benefits AND the legacy you’ve left behind.
If you are the parent of a disabled child and are ready to start planning your estate, your first call should be to a special needs trust lawyer. The purpose of a special needs trust is to enable you to provide for your loved one without disqualifying them from government benefits. To qualify for SSI, you must submit evidence of your loved one’s limited resources, which cannot exceed $2,000. With such a low threshold, it doesn’t take much to be disqualified. Instead of leaving a cash gift via a will, the funds are placed in a trust with your loved one named as the beneficiary. The trust, rather than the beneficiary, owns the assets. That arrangement allows beneficiaries to maintain a low net worth, which preserves their SSI eligibility.
A first-party special needs trust can be established by a parent, legal guardian, or grandparent. The trust is funded with assets owned by the disabled person. The money can then be distributed incrementally to your loved one.
In the case of a third-party special needs trust, the funds are provided by someone other than the disabled person. Parents most commonly establish this type of trust. If you are the parent of a child with a disability, a Santa Barbara special needs trust lawyer can help ensure they continue living their best life after your passing.
Does your loved one qualify for government assistance like SSI? If they do, you must establish a special needs trust to preserve their eligibility. If you’re unsure about your loved one’s ability to claim SSI benefits, reach out to a Santa Barbara special needs trust attorney for guidance and clarity.
The SSI program was designed to provide consistent financial assistance to adults and children with a disability. These benefits are only available to Americans whose income and resources are below the limits set by the government.
Although some assets aren’t considered countable resources, a cash inheritance would jeopardize your loved one’s ability to claim.
To receive SSI benefits, your loved one must meet these criteria:
In addition to blind and disabled people, SSI benefits are available to anyone over 65 who meets the other requirements.
Social Security is quite strict on what they consider to be a disability. Below are some examples of conditions that qualify for SSI benefits.
If your loved one is living with any of the following conditions, you must work with a Santa Barbara special needs trust lawyer to create the best possible plan for their future:
This list represents some disabilities that allow someone to claim SSI benefits. It’s not uncommon to be unaware of your entitlement to SSI.
If you’re unsure about your loved one’s eligibility, our dedicated special needs trust attorney can make an assessment about the public benefits and special needs trusts distributions for which they may qualify. If they do qualify, you shouldn’t hesitate to establish a trust that preserves their eligibility.
The government’s SSI program provides a monthly payment to aged, blind, and disabled people. As of January 1, 2022, the amount is $841 per month for individuals and $1,261 for couples. These payments can go a long way in helping your loved one maintain their standard of living and overall well-being.
Without proper special needs planning, you may deprive your loved ones of the benefits they deserve. SSI is a needs-based program and is only available to people whose countable resources do not exceed $2,000. Many assets do not count towards the resource limit, including a dwelling home or vehicle used for day-to-day transportation.
The purpose of a special needs trust is to maintain your loved one’s eligibility for these benefits. Because the assets are owned by the trust (and not your loved one), they will not count towards the SSI resource limit. Consult a Santa Barbara special needs trust lawyer when you’re ready to create or revise your estate plan.
Comprehensive special needs planning entails more than setting up a trust. You may also wish to create a care plan for your loved one. A care plan provides caregivers or medical personnel with the information they need to meet your loved one’s needs.
For more than two decades, our team has been providing compassionate legal services to residents of Santa Barbara. We are licensed to practice law in all state and federal courts in California, and we understand that special needs planning can get complicated. We want to support you every step of the way. When you work with our Santa Barbara special needs trust lawyer, you’ll get personalized guidance as you make provisions for the people you love.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
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