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Your New York Special Needs Planning Attorney and New York Special Needs Trusts

Whether your loved one with special needs is an adult or a child born with special needs, we can help your family. This is the mission of our New York disability lawyers practicing special needs planning. At Russo Law Group, P.C., we work as an advocate for your loved one throughout their life: from ongoing decision-making (guardianship), applying for Supplemental Security Income and New York Medicaid, to setting up special needs trusts, and even acting as trustee for your child’s assets after your death.

How do I make sure my child with special needs (disabilities) will be taken care of when I’m gone? Will government programs continue or be disrupted when I die?

Government programs have stringent eligibility requirements – some health-related and some financial. Our special needs planning lawyers explain some of these programs by answering the questions below. We will help you and your child take the steps needed to obtain these benefits and ensure your loved one holds onto their benefits through proper special needs planning. Many of our clients have been told by other advisors that they weren’t eligible for a program. Through thoughtful planning, we were able to get these important benefits in place and provide the family with peace of mind.

What government benefits are available for Special Needs Individuals in New York?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) was created to ensure that the elderly, blind, and disabled have a guaranteed minimum monthly income for living expenses. The amount paid is a combination of federal and state dollars, and there is a formula to determine the amount, depending on other available income. Though it’s administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), eligibility is based only on financial need. And unlike Social Security Retirement Benefits or Medicare, payments aren’t dependent on what’s been paid into the Social Security system.

People who qualify for SSI usually also qualify for Medicaid in New York, a government program that covers many health care costs.

Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) pays benefits to those who are unable to work according to the very strict Social Security definition of disability. Benefits continue until the beneficiary is able to work again or reaches retirement age, when disability benefits become retirement benefits. Unlike SSI, you must have paid Social Security payroll taxes to collect SSDI benefits. Eligibility and benefit amounts will depend on age and the number of accumulated work credits. After two years of receiving SSDI benefits, the beneficiary automatically becomes eligible to receive New York Medicare, even if they are under age 65. Certain family members may also qualify for disability benefits, such as children of a covered worker. Our special needs planning lawyers can help you sort through the maze of government rules to determine the maximum benefits allowed for your loved one with a disability.

What are New York Special Needs Trusts?

A New York special needs trust is created to supplement a disabled person’s income to pay for wants and needs not covered by government benefits.

If there are proceeds from a personal injury or medical malpractice settlement or judgment, then the special needs trust can be a lifesaver. The proceeds can be protected for the injured party while maintaining access to Medicaid, if necessary, to pay for the high cost of extended long-term care in New York.

The Difference Between New York Special Needs Trust and New York Supplemental Trusts

In many states, the terms special needs trust and supplemental needs trust are used interchangeably. However, in New York, a special needs trust specifically refers to a trust set up for a disabled person who already has their own assets. A supplemental needs trust is set up for a person with disabilities by a third party, such as a parent of a child with a disability.

In either case, it’s extremely important to make sure that the trust for the person with the disability meets the requirements of the government program benefits they are currently receiving or seeking. If the trust doesn’t comply with these requirements, the person with special needs (the trust beneficiary) could lose their government benefit.

What is a Supplemental Needs Trust in New York

A supplemental needs trust can only be created for a person under the age of 65 and can’t be created by the individual it would benefit. The trust usually covers things like education, clothing, recreation, uncovered medical care, etc. Because the assets were never owned directly by the person, the beneficiary of a supplemental needs trust can still receive benefits from government programs.

The Difference Between a New York Special Needs Trust and a New York Pooled Trust

There are two forms of trusts that allow someone to qualify for Medicaid and SSI:

  1. Special needs trusts (payback trusts or d4a trusts)
  2. Pooled trusts (d4c trusts)

Special Needs Trust in New York

A New York special needs trust (payback trust or d4a trust) must be created by the individual/beneficiary or a parent, grandparent, or legal guardian of a disabled person under age 65. Any money that remains in the fund after the beneficiary’s death must be used to reimburse Medicaid.

Pooled Trust in New York

A pooled trust (d4c trust) must be administered by a non-profit organization with the assets/income of the disabled person held in a separate account for their benefit. Depending on the terms of the trust, the remaining account balance on the death of the person may pass to the charity; otherwise, Medicaid must be reimbursed.

Our Nassau County, Suffolk County, and New York City law firm can outline the pros and cons of these two different types of trusts and help determine which is best for you.

Russo Law Group, P.C. helps you and your loved ones with Estate Planning, Elder Law, Special Needs Planning, New York Medicaid Planning, Trust & Estate, Guardianship, Small Business Planning, and Real Estate law. We welcome you to contact our Garden City, Lido Beach, or Islandia, New York, law offices to learn more about how we can help address your estate planning legal matters.

If you have questions or concerns about New York special needs trusts in Long Island and New York City communities, please don’t hesitate to contact our special needs planning attorneys at Russo Law Group, P.C. While we have several office locations, we can also visit your home and offer virtual meetings for your convenience.

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