Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.  In a recent article by fellow Special Needs Alliance member Elisa Dillard Rainey, CELA, Ms. Rainey encourages us to take time to reflect and to find ways to help eliminate both the small and large barriers that individuals with developmental disabilities face in their everyday lives.  To read the article, please click on the following link:

http://www.specialneedsalliance.org/developmental-disabilities-awareness-month-a-time-to-reflect/ 

Tips from Social Security on Preparing for Your Disability Interview

Last week, the Social Security Administration (SSA) posted an article on preparing for a disability interview with the SSA.   The article provides a number of tips that will make the interview process much smoother for applicants. To read the article, check out the link below.  

“Preparing for your disability interview: tips from Social Security” by Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications, Social Security Administration 

People With Disabilities and the Earned Income Tax Credit

This past Monday, the IRS issued a notice to inform taxpayers with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities to be aware of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  

The EITC is a federal income tax credit that is available to workers whose income is $53,505 or less (2016) and meet other eligibility requirements.   The amount of the tax credit can range from $2 to $6,269.  The IRS estimates that as many as 1.5 million people with disabilities do not take advantage of this tax credit because they often do not file an income tax return.

Many believe that this federal income tax credit could jeopardize their eligibility for public benefits. However, as the IRS points out in the notice, this tax credit is not counted as income for the purposes of determining eligibility for federal benefits programs, such as SSI, and any state or local program financed with federal funds, such Medicaid.  

To read the IRS’s notice on the EITC for individuals with disabilities, please read the following link:

https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/special-rules-help-many-people-with-disabilities-qualify-for-the-eitc-up-to-1-5-million-fail-to-claim-valuable-benefit 

Disclaimer: These entries are intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained on this website is legal advice.  You should seek legal counsel before acting upon information in these entries. 

New Social Security Representative Payee Training

The Social Security Administration has released a video series titled “Representative Payee Interdisciplinary Training.”  The series provides information for serving as a representative payee, including an overview of programs administered by the Social Security Administration, information on elder abuse and exploitation, and the duties and responsibilities for representative payees. The video series is available at the following link: https://www.ssa.gov/payee/rp_training2.html.

Special Needs Trust Fairness Act Passes Congress!

On December 7, 2016, Congress passed the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act, which amends 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1396p(d)(4)(A).  This law erroneously presumed that all persons with disabilities do not have the capacity to create their own special needs trusts.  To create a special needs trust funded with a person’s own money, his or her parent, grandparent, guardian, or a court had to create the trust.  The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act amends this false presumption that all persons with disabilities do not have the mental capacity to establish a trust.

Once signed by President Obama, persons with disabilities who have mental capacity and are under the age of 65 can create a special needs trust!

Disclaimer: These entries are intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained on this website is legal advice.  You should seek legal counsel before acting upon information in these entries. 

Kids With Special Needs Learn About Air Travel

On September 10, 2016 Mary Alice Jackson P.C. had the opportunity to participate in the Wings for All event, which was sponsored by the ARC of Texas, the Autism Society, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and American Airlines.  To read more about our experience, please check out Mary Alice’s article on the Special Needs Alliance webpage.

Link to article: http://www.specialneedsalliance.org/kids-with-special-needs-learn-about-air-travel/ 

 

NAELA Video Series for People with Multiple Sclerosis featuring Mary Alice Jackson

Produced in a partnership between the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Stetson University College of Law, the “Legal and Care Planning for People with Multiple Sclerosis” video series provides people diagnosed with MS and their families with information on the complex legal and planning issues they face.

The video series can be viewed on the NAELA website or on YouTube.

Titles include:

How Elder and Special Needs Law Attorneys Can Help People Diagnosed with MS. Presented by Craig C. Reaves, CELA, Fellow, CAP
Legal and Care Planning for Younger People with MS. Presented by Robert Brogan, CELA, CAP
Coordinating Attendant Care and Available Resources. Presented by Stephen Dale, Esq., LLM
Family Law and Divorce: When a Partner Has MS. Presented by Patricia E. Kefalas Dudek, Esq., CAP, Fellow
• Property and Health Care Decision-Making Agents: An Overview. Presented by Mary Alice Jackson, Esq., Fellow

Disclaimer: These entries are intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained on this website is legal advice.  You should seek legal counsel before acting upon information in these entries

Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge of Federal Student Loans

If a student loan borrower develops a total and permanent disability (TPD), the federal government will now forgive the borrower’s federal student loans.  The Department of Education has already identified over 300,000 Americans who are eligible for student loan forgiveness, and has begun to notify these borrowers on how to apply for discharge of their student debt.  These notices warn that discharge of debt may lead to adverse tax consequences. 
 
The IRS generally treats forgiveness of student loans as income.  For some, this could affect their eligibility for Medicaid, how much they pay for health insurance bought through the health care exchanges, and eligibility for other public benefits programs.
 
Currently, there is a bipartisan bill in Congress that would eliminate this tax on forgiven income for persons with total and permanent disabilities (TPD).  The President’s 2017 budget proposal also seeks to exclude TPD discharges and other Department of Education loan forgiveness programs.
 
For more information on TPD student loan debt discharges, please visit the Federal Student Aid websites 
 

Disclaimer: These entries are intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained on this website is legal advice.  You should seek legal counsel before acting upon information in these entries. 

Designating Survivor Benefit Plans (SBP) to a Special Needs Trust

In 2015, President Obama signed the Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act into law.  The legislation amends the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) to allow military members and retirees to elect to direct payment of a SBP to a Special Needs Trust (SNT) established for a dependent child.  The SBP is a monthly benefit paid to a designated beneficiary when an active duty solider or a retired service-member who has elected to participate in the program passes away. 

This amendment to the current program will allow children of military parents to receive the SBP benefit and still remain eligible for other government benefits with strict income and resource requirements (like SSI and Medicaid).  Certain steps must be taken in order for the benefit to be paid directly to the SNT, and the SNT must meet specific requirements.  Overall, this is a great change in the law for military families with children with disabilities.

Disclaimer: These entries are intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained on this website is legal advice.  You should seek legal counsel before acting upon information in these entries.