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Special Needs

June 14, 2022Assistance Is Available for Veterans' Children with Disabilities

Children with disabilities whose parents are veterans, living or deceased, may be entitled to government support. Veterans and their children might not be aware of the fact, but financial assistance is available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration, whether for health care costs, vocational training, or in the form of survivor benefits....

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June 8, 2022Support Your Child With Disabilities — and Still Qualify for Medicaid

If you have a child with a disability, providing for them into the future will likely stand among your top priorities. However, if you also wish to apply for Medicaid to cover your own long-term care expenses, first consider establishing a special needs trust (SNT) for your child. This will allow you to transfer assets to support them while remaining eligible for Medicaid yourself....

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May 25, 2022Three Warning Signs That You May Need a Professional Trustee

Sometimes a parent or relative of a person with special needs will establish a special needs trust for their family member and decide to serve as the sole trustee of the trust. In other cases, a parent won't want to serve as trustee, but will ask a close friend or family member to serve without explaining what the job entails. These are very common scenarios, and they are often followed -- months after the trust has been created, when tax returns are due and it's time to file financial statements with various government agencies -- by the discovery that the trustee is in over his or her head. Does this sound like you? If so, it may be time to enlist the services of a professional trustee. While hiring a professional trustee may not always be the best solution, it is almost always better to have a professional with experience managing special needs trusts serve in place of an unqualified or overwhelmed non-professional trustee. Here are some warning signs that may indicate that a change is in order:...

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May 12, 2022What Can ABLE Account Money Be Spent On?

ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts offer people with disabilities a great, tax-free way to accumulate money without jeopardizing their qualifications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and other means-tested programs. Withdrawals are tax-free as long as the money is used for "qualified disability expenses." The arguments for starting and maintaining such funds are overwhelming, not least of which is the wide variety of things on which the money can be spent. To build 529A ABLE accounts, beneficiaries (and other contributors) can put up to $16,000 total into these funds each year. Other restrictions apply. Only those whose disabilities were diagnosed before turning 26 are eligible for an ABLE savings plan. The total value of the account must remain below $100,000 for the beneficiary to qualify for government benefits. Also, the money must be spent only on items, services and activities that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) deems qualified disability expenses (QDEs)....

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May 6, 2022SSA Reopens Its Offices While Making It Easier to Apply for SSI Online

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has reopened its more than 1,200 field offices to the public for the first time in two years, and the agency also launched an online tool for first-time Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applicants. SSA closed its offices at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, forcing the 43 million people who visit them each year to transact business via telephone, fax, and the mail. Many clients reported difficulties getting through to the agency, raising fears that services were being denied to the most vulnerable. But the offices were back open April 7, albeit with restrictions: Masks and social distancing are still required. To avoid overcrowding, the agency is still urging people to make appointments — though these are not mandated — and to avoid coming in person altogether if they can accomplish what they need to online or by phone. Alternatively, officials are advising people to postpone in-person visits to avoid long lines that are expected during the first weeks of reopening....

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April 13, 2022When Is It OK for an SNT Trustee to Be Compensated?

Question: Should a special needs trust (SNT) trustee be paid, and, if so, how much? Answer: It depends. The demands on a trustee can vary widely, depending on the size and complexity of the trust. Some family members serving in this role might simply oversee distributions and not need to charge anything at all for their time. But often the duties of a trustee can extend way beyond this scenario and warrant financial compensation — even for nonprofessional trustees who are family members. Such tasks can include making investment decisions about the trust's assets, arranging distributions to beneficiaries, paying taxes and other bills, and preparing an extensive annual report on the trust's income and outlays....

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March 24, 2022Advice on Vice: Do Alcohol, Tobacco and Pornography Count as Special Needs?

Vice might be nice, as the old saying goes, but can things like cigarettes, alcohol and pornography be paid for out of a special needs trust ("SNT")? The answer is… it depends. Obviously, if such activities are specifically ruled out in a third-party trust, then no cigar. If, for example, the person who funded and established the trust (sometimes referred to as the Grantor or Settlor) stipulated in the trust's terms that it not be used to purchase alcohol or cigarettes, then it is the trustee's duty to enforce those prohibitions. In many ways, the trustee serves as a referee calling the shots with the regard to what can and cannot be purchased using trust assets. But many trusts do not address such activities, so what is a trustee to do when a beneficiary wants to light up, pour a drink, and settle down to a pornographic pay-per-view movie on the trust's dime?...

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March 18, 2022The Earned Income Tax Credit ("EITC") Has Been Expanded, Now Covering More People with Disabilities

For the 2021 tax year, the IRS is expanding eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit ("EITC"), an important anti-poverty measure that assists those with low incomes either avoid paying taxes altogether, or in some cases, offering those individuals tax refunds that they would not have otherwise received. One key impact of these changes is that more people without children, many of whom are also people with disabilities will also qualify. Traditionally people with disabilities have left money on the table by assuming they would not qualify for the EITC....

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March 17, 202214 Mandelbaum Barrett attorneys named to the 2022 Super Lawyers List as well as 4 named Rising Stars

Mandelbaum Barrett is pleased to announce that fourteen of our attorneys have been selected by their peers as New Jersey Super Lawyers* for 2022. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state of New Jersey are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor. In addition, the Firm is excited to announce that four of our attorneys were named to the Rising Stars list for 2022, which recognizes the top up-and-coming attorneys age 40 or under or who are in practice for 10 years or less. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor....

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February 24, 2022Divorce and the Child With Special Needs: Be Aware of Child Support Payments

Depending on which statistics you believe, between 40 and 50 percent of first marriages will end in divorce or permanent separation, and second marriages fare even worse. While there is no such thing as a "typical" divorce, a divorcing couple that has a child with special needs faces an even more complicated series of decisions and choices than most. Family law attorneys, often well trained in the complicated and emotionally charged world of divorce settlement, may not have all of the answers for the divorcing parents of a child with special needs. In these cases, it is important to meet with a special needs planner to discuss options for your child. One important consideration is the impact child support payments will have on the child's eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)....

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