Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Planning News
 Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law
In This Issue:
Legal Steps to Take After Your Child is Diagnosed with Autism
Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Special Needs Planning Attorney
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.

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


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Issue: #123

June 2019

My son Andy graduated from high school this month and I am a HUGE ball of emotions! I am so proud of him and all that he has accomplished, yet a little sad for this next chapter of life.
I haven't quite wrapped my head around the fact my baby will soon be leaving the nest and heading off to college.  Legally, however, I've already started to prepare in the event my son has a problem or emergency at school and needs my help.
Unfortunately, what parents of graduating seniors don't realize is that when their now-adult child goes off to school, they will lose the ability to make financial, medical or personal decisions for their child because of privacy laws. It's impossible to even speak to the financial aid office without the right legal documents in place.
For this reason, I'll be having my son name me as his Power of Attorney and Health Care Agent before he goes away. That way, if he ends up in the hospital or just needs my help managing an account or working with the school, I can provide these documents and I'll be able to step in without a problem.
If you also have a child who is heading off to college and you don't have these key documents in place, give me a call and I'll bring you in to create them. I wouldn't let my now-adult child leave home without them and I hope that you won't either!
Have a great month,

Legal Steps to Take After Your Child is Diagnosed with Autism 
The weeks and months following a child's autism diagnosis can be frightening and challenging for parents. You may be worried about what the future holds and what to expect as you work to adapt to a "new normal" in your home.

While doctors and teachers will generally help parents start the ball rolling with Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, and psychological support, very little attention is given to the legal and financial steps that parents need to start thinking about in order to prepare for the future.

Taking the time to sit down with a Special Needs Planning Attorney as soon as a child is diagnosed with autism can make a world of difference in the peace of mind that families experience and the quality of care that their child is able to receive. This is achieved in the following ways:
  1. Naming Guardians - A qualified Special Needs Planning Attorney will assist parents in creating a will and naming guardians who could raise their child if something unexpectedly happens to mom or dad. This step is absolutely critical when a child has autism, as parents tend to know best the person(s) in the child's life who can handle his or her special needs and give them the life he or she deserves if mom or dad were to become sick or pass away. Without such designations in place, the child could end up in a lengthy custody battle, or worse, placed in foster care.

  2. Creating a Special Needs Trust -Special Needs Trust is a legal tool that ensures a disabled child's health care and living needs are taken care of if something happens to mom or dad.  Without this critical tool in place, an inheritance left outright to a disabled child could void their eligibility for public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid, in the future.  Medicaid is especially important as it may be the only health care option available.  Instead, a Special Needs Trust helps to ensure that the child receives such public benefits without actually having assets in their name, thus leaving all government benefits intact.

  3. Building a Team of Support BEFORE it's Needed - It's never too early to start building a team of trusted caregivers and advisers who can immediately step in and help your child if a crisis occurs.   Such team members may include the child's legal guardians, a trusted doctor, financial adviser, special needs planning attorney and dedicated family or friends.  Building a team now also helps to ensure you have the right people in place --- as opposed to someone who could prey upon your child in an emergency.

  4. Having a Plan for Legal Issues that May Arise in the Future - A Special Needs Planning Attorney can help guide parents through the issues they may face in the future, whether that's working with their child's school for special accommodations or IEP concerns, or understanding the process the parents will need to take to become their child's court-appointed legal guardian when he or she turns 18. This way, parents can stay abreast of the issues that may be coming up down the road so that they are always prepared to make the best decisions for their child.
If your child was recently diagnosed with autism and you have not yet taken the time to talk to a Special Needs Planning Attorney about planning ahead for your child's future, we invite you to call our office to schedule an appointment. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss your options and help you begin to develop a road map that gives your family peace of mind.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Special Needs Planning Attorney
Planning for a child who has a disability is an extremely important and time-sensitive task. Your child is counting on you to create a plan that not only protects him or her now and after you are gone, but also encourages your child to reach his or her full potential.
Special needs planning makes that a possibility and gives you confidence about your child's future. By planning now, you can have the peace of mind knowing everything will be taken care of, no matter what happens.
However, there are a lot of considerations that need to be made when it comes to planning for children with special needs, and you want to be sure you have an attorney by your side who is well-versed in all of your options.
Before you hire any Special Needs Planning Attorney, it's important to do your homework to ensure that he or she is the right fit for your family. This person will be by your side through many of your child's life transitions, and you want to be sure that you are working with an attorney whom you can see having a long-term relationship with.
When interviewing potential candidates, we advise you to ask the following questions:
  • How many years' experience do you have in Special Needs Planning?
  • What led you to this kind of work?
  • What is your overall educational and professional background?
  • How would you describe a Special Needs Trust and what it means for my family?
  • What are your typical fees?
  • Do you bill hourly or will I have the benefit of flat fees?
You will likely have other questions that are important to you. For example, are there specific considerations that come into play regarding your child's particular disability? Are there other family members or caregivers that need to be involved in the planning process?
Of course, the overall goal is to find someone knowledgeable who can guide you as you put your plan together. In the end, you should feel confident that you have created a plan that will protect and care for your disabled child when you are no longer able to do so yourself.

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.