Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Planning News
 Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law
In This Issue:
Special Needs Planning and the Absentee Parent
Why Is It Appropriate To Seek Guardianship For Your 18-Year Old Child?
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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.

Fairfax County has
finally opened up
their waiting list for Housing Choice 
Vouchers (HCV).

The waiting list will only be open from January 29, 2019 at 8:00 AM until February 4, 2019 at 11:59 PM.   
It is very important that you get on this waiting list during this time since this waiting list was last opened in 2007.
For more information visit
the Fairfax County Housing and Community Development website

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


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Issue: #118

 January 2019

Happy 2019 !

I hope you enjoyed a nice holiday season and a very happy new year.

I, unfortunately, came down with the flu over the holidays, despite getting the flu shot! I have not been this sick in a long time, and it really reinforced my sympathies for my clients who have illnesses and other disabilities.

In legal news, I always encourage my clients at the start of each year to review any legal planning they have in place to ensure its up-to-date and still meets their needs.

This is especially important if you have a child with special needs; you want to make sure that all the assets intended to go into your child's Special Needs Trust are properly titled, and that any people that you've named in "legal helper" roles who would care for your child if you are unable (trustee, co-guardian, successor guardian) are still the people you want in those positions.

Of course, if you've been procrastinating on getting an estate or special needs plan in place to protect your loved ones and your assets, please make this the year that you get it taken care of once and for all. If I can help you get started, just hit "reply" or give my office a call to schedule an appointment.

Special Needs Planning and the Absentee Parent

Not all families come from storybooks or primetime television. Not every parent remains in his or her child's life. This, of course, can be very painful for both the child and the other parent. This can also create financial issues, since the other parent is gone but maybe still living.
When a parent is out of the picture there can be unique issues with special needs planning and determining eligibility for benefits. This is where a Special Needs Planning lawyer can be especially beneficial. If you're not sure, or simply don't know what the absentee parent has planned (if anything) here are some ways your lawyer can guide you.
Find out if the other parent is alive or not. It's entirely possible for one parent to be unaware if the other is alive or dead.
If the absentee parent has died:

They may have left an estate to which your child is an heir. This can affect your estate plans, as well as your child's eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and housing benefits.
Also if the other parent is deceased, your child may be eligible for Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits based on the Social Security record of the deceased parent. This could result in additional money for your child and Medicare insurance.
Find out if the other parent had a Special Needs plan in effect. While it may not be likely, it's possible that the absentee parent felt responsible for the child and created a Special Needs Trust even without you knowing.
If the absentee parent is alive:
Work with the other parent and his or her lawyer to create or change a plan, if possible. Your Special Needs Planning Attorney can work with the absentee parent's attorney so the two of you can do Special Needs Planning without having to sit down and work together.  If you're not looking forward to a reunion, this may be an option.
You also want to work with the other parent to decide on guardianship issues, especially If you want to be named sole legal guardian of your special needs child when he or she turns 18.
Note that in most cases you or your special needs planning lawyer cannot compel the other parent to become involved with his or her adult child or to create any sort of inheritance or Special Needs Trust.

  It is not a pleasant thought at all, but there is a real possibility that someone stays away because they want to stay away. A Special Needs Planning Attorney knows the particular laws involved, but likely cannot force the other parent to do something they're not willing to do and not obligated by law to do.
It's never too early to start planning for your special needs child. In the case where one parent is gone, planning can become more complicated. An experienced Special Needs Planning Attorney can help you plan for your child's future and prepare for any surprises or disappointments if the other parent won't be or isn't expected to be involved.

Why Is It Appropriate To Seek Guardianship For Your 18-Year Old Child?

There are many reasons why parents should consider obtaining guardianship for an 18-year-old with disabilities even if the child resides at home, still attends high school, and looks no different the day after his 18th birthday than the day before. Here are a few compelling reasons:

Ability to make decisions and speak for your child to his doctors and to have access to his medical records:
Once a child turns 18 he is an adult. Before age 18, parents were expected to remain in the examining room with the doctor. After age 18, parents are often excluded from the examining room unless the child invites them to stay, because of HIPAA regulations. Yet often a parent needs to tell the doctor or psychologist that the child is not taking his medication or is exhibiting symptoms at home that they are forgetting to tell the doctor about. In reality if a child is so low-functioning that he cannot communicate at all, healthcare providers would probably turn to the parents for guidance. But there are circumstances in which it is not obvious that a young adult is so disabled that his decision-making powers are impaired. Guardianship is a method of resolving the issue in advance of an emergency.
Many parents have been told that if their child has signed a Power of Attorney, a guardianship is not needed. However, in order for a Power of Attorney to be valid, the person granting or signing the power must have the legal capacity to fully understand the significance of what is being done and must fully understand that he is giving another person the power to make health or financial decisions for him. If your child does not have this capability the Power of Attorney is not valid and will probably not be honored. Also your child can easily revoke the Power of Attorney anytime he wants to.
Continued entitlement to Special Education services provided by your child's school district:
Guardianship may be a necessity for an 18-year-old who has a disability that prevents him or her from making decisions about his or her financial affairs, medical issues and even education. The Federal and State laws that mandate that all students receive a free appropriate public education also provides that unless the student has been declared disabled, all rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act of 2004, (IDEA) transfer from the parents to the student at age 18.
How would you feel if you were excluded from your child's IEP (Individual Education Plan) meetings with his school? What if your child has a communication disorder that makes it difficult for him to participate in a two-hour meeting with a roomful of his teachers? What if the school district administrators are trying to convince him to graduate and leave high school at 18, when the law says he has four more years of eligibility for services? Your child may need a guardian to argue that he needs transition services after high school.
Preventing your child from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous people:
Some young adults with disabilities are "gullible." They can be persuaded to sign leases, buy cars or apply for credit cards by others who appear to be their friends. One of my clients was granted guardianship over her 18-year-old son. Shortly thereafter, he was persuaded by some would-be friends to sign up for a credit card offer that came to the house. When the credit card came, the "friends" took him to a shopping center and they all ran up the credit card to its limit.  My client was able to get all of the charges waived and the credit card cancelled because her son had been declared legally unable to execute a contract.
As frightening as it may be to have someone take financial advantage of your child with a disability, there are predators who will try to lure a person with disabilities away from home. Once a child is 18, he is an adult and can leave the family home and live wherever he pleases. However, a legal guardian has control over where their child lives and can seek the assistance of the police to force a third party to return your child to you.
Assistance in some encounters with the police:

While having a guardian is not a "get out of jail free" card, it has some value. For example, in another misadventure, the young man mentioned above was detained for shoplifting. When his mother showed the police the guardianship papers, the police released her son with just a warning.
If you are interested in discussing the possibility of guardianship, please contact our office to make an appointment.
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' Newly Updated 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.