Financial Resources & Benefits
Proper financial planning is very important – it is never too early to plan ahead! Creating a financial plan requires you, and your support system, to consider your vision for life when you get older. First, ask yourself these questions:
- What supports will need to be in place in order for you to have the life you envision in your community?
- How will you receive needed support?
- How will the cost for needed support be covered?
- Where will you live?
Don’t leave out your support system! Picture the involvement of your friends, relatives and service providers as you get older.
Put together your financial plan:
Estate Planning. This refers to steps individuals or couples take to direct what will happen to their money and other assets after death. One aspect of future planning, this process is helpful for people in all types of financial situations. Most people want to direct how their money or assets will be distributed, minimize taxes as well as choose who will care for their minor children. Your parents may name people who will provide support for you. They may accomplish this by setting up a plan that includes a will, letter of intent, special needs trust and/or other pertinent documents.
Note: Your family should seek an attorney who understands not only estate planning issues but who also is knowledgeable about government benefits and understands the needs of people with disabilities.
Government benefits. Both financial assistance and health care benefits are very important for people with disabilities. Many parents think that they should not leave money to their child with a disability or their child will lose public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. Please discuss this with your lawyer, as money left outright to a child could jeopardize benefits if assets are above the statutory threshold.
The fact that someone is receiving benefits should be incentive to begin planning. A plan can ensure that a person keeps needed benefits and is able to use the additional assistance from family to purchase items that government benefits do not cover to enrich his/her quality of life.
The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (ABLE) states that its purpose is to (1) encourage and assist individuals and families in saving private funds for the purpose of supporting individuals with disabilities to maintain health, independence, and quality of life; and (2) provide secure funding for disability-related expenses of beneficiaries with disabilities that will supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurance, title XVI (Supplemental Security Income) and title XIX (Medicaid) of the Social Security Act, the beneficiary's employment, and other sources.
What else do you need to know about the ABLE Act? Michael Morris, Executive Director of National Disability Institute, gives us six steps for ABLE account planning in 2015.