Two Congressional Bills That Can Help With Special Needs Planning
I recently returned to Michigan from California where I participated in the retreat for the Board of Directors of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). Over the years NAELA has added Special Needs law as a focus, and I am proud to be a part of this effort. It is frustrating but rewarding work!
Recently, NAELA has spearheaded a drive to address two essential issues for people with disabilities and their families. I hope you will all consider contacting your Congress members in support of the following two bills:
1. Special Needs Trust Fairness Act of 2013( H.R. 2123)
This important legislation addresses what many believe was a drafting error in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA ’93) legislation. It corrects the error, by amending the law to include a person with a disability as one of the parties (along with guardian, parent, grandparent or a court) who may create a first party special needs trust (SNT) to hold their assets without interfering with their access to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.
The D4A trust is one funded with the assets that beneficiary of SSI or Medicaid and requires a payback to any state that provided Medicaid benefits to the beneficiary. For more information regarding this bill go to H.R. 2123. Please read the letters of support to Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson.
2. Disabled Military Child Protection Act of 2013 (H.R. 2249)
On May 23, 2103, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) introduced S.1076, the Disabled Military Child Protection Act of 2013, which provides for the payment of monthly annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan to a special needs trust for a veteran’s child with a disability (instead of leaving the benefit directly to the child with a disability).
This would ensure that the child with a disability continues to qualify for certain government benefits. Congressman Jim Moran (D-8th, VA) introduced the same bill in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 4, 2013. The Disabled Military Child Protection Act of 2013 still needs additional Republican support!
This bill would allow severely disabled military dependents to receive survivor benefits through a special needs trust without fear of losing access to their Medicaid or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.
A third party Special Needs Trust is funded with 3rd party assets (usually parents, siblings, or grandparents) – this type of trust doesn’t require any payback for benefits. For more information on this bill go to H.R. 2249 and also go to Eye on Elder Law. Please read letters of support to Senator Kay Hagan and Representative Jim Moran.
Neither of these important legislative efforts adds cost to the National Budget/debt. However, they both bring clarity and fairness in terms of estate and long term care planning for our citizens with disabilities. Easy to see why I’m proud of NAELA right? Please join our efforts and let me know how it goes at [email protected]. For more information about NAELA visit their website and for Special Needs Trust visit Patti’s website.