Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Planning News
 Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law
In This Issue:
Understanding Social Security Disability Benefits for Military Service Members & Veterans
Military Survivor Benefit Plans and your Disabled Child
Legal Guardianship vs VA Fiduciary Program
Picture of Sheri Abrams

Sheri R. Abrams 
Attorney at Law

10467 White Granite Drive
Suite 306
Oakton, VA 22124

(571) 328-5795
Please see our website at:

for more information.

Share this Newsletter

Join Our List

See Our Previous Email Newsletters

Newsletter Archives
Read and Sign Up
For Our Blog 
Like us on Facebook
View our profile on LinkedIn

Follow us on Twitter
Visit our blog

View our videos on YouTube

Find us on Pinterest

Find us on Yelp

Article Reprint Authorization


We invite you to reprint our articles in order to bring helpful information to your readers, with the following guidelines:

  • The content is to be printed in its entirety;
  • Additions, deletions or changes in the text, title or illustrations may not be made;
  • Credit is given to Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law, as the original source.


Source: Reprinted from the May 2019 Newsletter of Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law, 


Thank you for your reviews! 

Have you worked with our law firm? We would greatly appreciate it if you would leave us a  review, to do so please

Issue: #122

May 2019

We will pause once again this Memorial Day to honor our active and retired service members and to remember the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country. As you enjoy the freedom that these men and women fought to protect, I ask that you take a moment to honor their sacrifices and celebrate their victories.

In acknowledgment of those heroes who died for our country, those who served (including my father who served in the Army during the Korean War), and those who serve today, we at the law office of Sheri R. Abrams honor and thank you for your service.

Have a great month,
Understanding Social Security Disability Benefits for Military Service Members & Veterans
Every year, on Memorial Day, we honor service members who have given their lives or been wounded for our freedom.

Both the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) have disability programs.

Military service members and veterans may qualify for disability benefits through one of these programs but not the other, or they may qualify for both.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers benefits to veterans when an injury prevents them from returning to military duty or performing other work. Service members can normally receive Social Security Disability benefits in addition to military retirement benefits. 

Wounded military service members can also receive expedited processing of their Social Security disability claims.  Social Security will expedite disability claims filed by veterans who have a 100 percent Permanent & Total compensation rating from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Depending on the situation, some family members of military service members and veterans, including dependent children, and, in some cases, spouses, may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits.

For more information visit:  

Military Survivor Benefit Plans and Your Disabled Child
The Disabled Military Child Protection Act allows military families with special needs children to protect their children's eligibility for public benefits while allowing them to participate in their Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP).

The military's Survivor Benefit Plans permit monthly benefit stipends, up to 55% of the military member's pension, to be paid for the benefit of a disabled child.

The Disabled Military Child Protection Act grants military members the authority to name a First Party Special Needs Trust as a beneficiary of their SBP.   If the benefits are distributed directly to this First Party Special Needs Trust, the child will remain eligible for benefits such as SSI and Medicaid.

These First Party Special Needs Trusts must be irrevocable, for the sole benefit of the disabled child, and must have a "payback" provision-- meaning if there are any assets left in the trust when the SBP beneficiary dies, the funds are paid back to Medicaid for the cost of the beneficiary's care.

There are very specific rules that need to be followed regarding these First Party Special Needs Trusts and the assignment of benefits.  For example, the military requires verification from an attorney certifying that the trust is the "correct" type of trust and is in compliance with all Federal and State laws.

For more information on this type of trust, please call our office to set up an appointment.

Legal Guardianship vs VA Fiduciary Program
Legal Guardianship and the VA Fiduciary Program are intended to help veterans who have mental or physical disabilities that render them incapacitated --- but both work in very different ways.

The VA Fiduciary Program is a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) program that appoints a person to manage the veteran's VA benefits when the veteran lacks capacity to do so.  Unlike a legal guardianship, which can extend to all areas of the veteran's life, the VA Fiduciary Program is more narrowly focused on administration of VA benefits only.

If the VA determines a veteran lacks capacity in a way that interferes with his or her ability to manage financial affairs, the VA will appoint someone to serve as a VA fiduciary.  The VA fiduciary is somewhat similar to a guardian of the estate, with three important limitations:

First, the fiduciary is not appointed by a court. Second, the fiduciary is in charge of administering only those benefits the veteran receives from the VA. Third, the VA, and not the court, will have oversight.

Generally, the VA will find a veteran requires a fiduciary based on the medical condition giving rise to the claim for VA benefits in the first place.  But if a veteran has been determined to be lacking capacity in a legal guardianship proceeding, that also might be an instance where the VA will select a fiduciary, which might or might not be the court-appointed guardian.

One other point regarding the VA Fiduciary Program: In addition to wounded veterans, a VA fiduciary also might be required to be appointed for a veteran's beneficiary if that beneficiary receives VA benefits. For example, if a deceased veteran has a spouse who is eligible for the veteran's VA benefits, but the spouse is incapacitated due to mental illness, the VA may require a fiduciary for the spouse. Similarly, a minor child of a deceased veteran may have a fiduciary (which may be the child's surviving parent) required to receive the veteran's benefits.

An important thing to be aware of when dealing with the VA is that they tend to use terminology that has very specific meanings under the law but has very different meanings in the way the VA uses it.  Incapacity in the guardianship context is a legal status determined by a court after a thorough review and assessment of objective evidence about a person's physical and mental condition. The VA determines someone is incompetent based on a VA rating decision, a court decree, or both a VA rating decision and a court decree. The VA generally receives incompetency information from VA examinations, VA outpatient treatment records, private treatment records, or a court order that a beneficiary might be unable to manage his or her financial affairs (including disbursement of VA funds).

A VA incompetency determination for purposes of appointment of a fiduciary concerns only the beneficiary's inability to manage VA benefits and is not the same as incompetency under guardianship law. The VA can determine someone incompetent simply by having a field manager meet with the veteran, talk to family members, and conduct whatever background review the field manager deems appropriate. It is a far less rigorous process and therefore is not the same as incapacity under guardianship law.  A determination of incompetence by the VA can be used as evidence presented in a guardianship proceeding, but a court is not required to find a veteran incapacitated and in need of a legal guardian just because the VA has said so.

For more information visit:

Free Download of Sheri Abrams' New Special Needs Planning Guide!

Special Needs Planning is critical to ensure that parents can access key benefits and resources that will be necessary to ensure a smooth transition for their child into adulthood. 

You can download a free copy:  here

Free Download of Sheri Abrams' Book "Don't Gamble With Your Social Security Disability Benefits"

Picture of Book
You can download a free copy: 

For more information please click  here  to read our Press Release.     

Our Office Location

The law firm of Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law is located at: 

service source building


10467 White Granite Drive
Suite 306
Oakton, VA 22124
(571) 328-5795


This is in the "ServiceSource" building and there is plenty of free and accessible parking.

Our office is also accessible by public transportation.


If you know of someone who could use our legal services, please forward to him/her this e-mail newsletter or give him/her our telephone number: (571) 328-5795.


We provide legal services in the areas of Social Security Disability Law, Special Needs Planning, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Special Needs Trusts, Wills and Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Advance Medical Directives (Living Wills), Guardianship, Conservatorship, Disability Planning and Student Loan Discharge. 
If you, or someone you know, is involved with an educational event or support group that would benefit from a presentation on any of the areas of law for which we provide legal services, please call us at (571) 328-5795.