Previous blog posts have discussed the importance of making sure inheritances and gifts to provide for individuals with special needs go to designated Special Needs Trusts or, in certain circumstances, ABLE accounts. Making sure that payments go to the trust or ABLE account ensure that the special needs individual can receive support while still maintaining eligibility for government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.

Divorce also presents situations that can endanger a special needs child’s benefit eligibility. The structure of any support arrangements to either the custodial parent or designated child support payments should be checked by an experienced special needs attorney to make sure that the support will not endanger the child’s benefit eligibility.

The expertise of a special needs attorney is necessary because benefit eligibility is a complex issue that can go beyond the expected expertise of a divorce attorney.

One issue that requires special needs expertise are child support payments. In the case of divorces involving special needs children, child support payments can often continue indefinitely. Care must be taken to make sure that support payments not only go to a special needs trust or ABLE account, but specifically to what kind of special needs trust can payments go to or when payments may be too large for an ABLE account.

Another area where care should be taken are beneficiary designations on life insurance policies. Typical arrangements name a child as a beneficiary, but direct payments to an individual with special needs can endanger that individuals benefit eligibility.

Parental resources, in general, can also affect what benefits a special needs household is eligible for. A special needs attorney can help evaluate what the eligibility picture will look like post-divorce and how a potential support agreement affects that eligibility.

To discuss any special needs legal issues or benefit eligibility concerns, please call Martha C. Brown & Associates at (314) 962-0186.