Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Planning News
 Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law
In This Issue:
Probably the #1 Question I Receive is "How Can I Receive More Money From SSI?"
Protect Your Child Who Has a Disability by Creating a Special Needs Trust
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for more information.
Upcoming Events

P resentation:

Social Security Disability and Special Needs Planning
Tuesday, November 27th
6:00 PM
Cedar Lane School
101 Cedar Lane SW
Vienna, Va.
Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law, will discuss the following:
  • What are Social Security Disability &  SSI benefits?
  • Who Qualifies for Social Security Disability &  SSI benefits (with special emphasis on families of children with special needs)?
  • How does the application and appeal process work?
  • What do we do if you are denied benefits?
  • Do I need to consider applying for Guardianship of my child before they turn 18?
  • What are Special Needs Trusts and how do they work?
Open to the public, please RSVP to Jennifer Min
at 703-208-2420 or
email her at

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Source: Reprinted from the November 2018 Newsletter of Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law,


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Issue: #116

 November 2018

It's hard to believe that the holidays are here already. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and an adventurous "Black Friday" if you are the type of person who enjoys getting up in the middle of the night to shop.
I spent the holiday in New Jersey with my parents, my sister and her family, and of course, my son. I had some time to reflect on 2018 and all the things that I'm thankful for. Here are a few items on my gratitude list:
  • I am extremely grateful to have my son home with me this Thanksgiving. I don't know what's going to happen when he goes off to college next year. He's a teenager and drives me crazy, but I love him to pieces and will miss him terribly when he goes away;

  • I am thankful that my parents, who are in their 80's, are still with us and healthy; and

  • I am grateful for my sister and her husband and their kids, Amanda and Max who I love like they were my own. It's so nice to enjoy their young lives without having the worry of them being my own children! 
Finally, I'm thankful for YOU. Without the clients and professional partners of this law firm, I wouldn't have a career that is focused on helping and empowering disabled individuals in our community, which is my passion. So again, thank you.
With Gratitude,

Probably the #1 Question I Receive is "How Can I Receive More Money From SSI?"

The amount of money individuals and married couples receive through Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is very   low. That is why many people wonder if they, or perhaps their disabled child,  can somehow have their monthly benefits increased.   If the disabled person is   already receiving the maximum amount in benefits, the   answer is "no." This amount is a fixed amount and there is no way to appeal to the Social Security  Administration (SSA) for an increase.

SSI Maximum Amount

The maximum amount of SSI in most States, including Virginia, is $750 per month for an individual and $1,125 per month for a married couple.    In 2019 the maximum amount of SSI will increase to $771 per month for an individual and  $1,157 per month for a married couple.   If you or your disabled child are not receiving the full amount, you should start by determining why.

Why A Person May Not Be Receiving the Maximum SSI Benefit

If a person is   collecting less than the maximum amount of SSI benefits, it is likely that Social Security assumes that they are receiving "in-kind" support.  In-kind support is often in the form of food or reduced rent.  In general, Social Security assumes this based on what is put on the original application for SSI benefits.

Sometimes, people who have relied on others to help with food and rent start paying these costs themselves once they begin receiving SSI.   In this situation, the disabled person should contact their local Social Security office about getting an increase.  If the local Social Security office is not   being helpful, you should call our office at (571) 328-5795 to set up an appointment to review your family's situation and to go over the options.

Determine if the Disabled Person's Income is Limiting their SSI Benefits

If   a disabled person is not receiving the maximum amount of SSI, it could be that their "countable income" is lowering the benefit amount.   "Countable income"   includes the following:
  • Income from work;
  • In-kind support and maintenance - as stated earlier, food and shelter you receive for free or at a discount would count as income;
  • Gifts - any financial gift you receive from family, friends or others, is considered countable income; and
  • Unearned income and benefits - any payments you receive from Social Security Disability (SSDI), Worker's compensation,  pensions or personal injury awards are considered countable income.
Also please remember that to qualify for SSI benefits, you must have no more than $2,000 in assets as an individual and no more than $3,000 in assets as a married couple.

Protect Your Child Who Has a Disability by Creating a Special Needs Trust

When your child who has a disability turns 18, he or she may become eligible for Federal benefits for the first time. Qualifying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Medicaid can open new doors for your child.

However, your family must now be especially careful when structuring an estate and legal plan, as one wrong financial move can cause these benefits to be lost.

Avoid the Biggest Mistake First

Many parents want to give their child with special needs money to take care of themselves, or conversely, give money to a sibling or other family member who promise to take care of the child.  Both of these can cause serious problems and should be avoided.

Giving money to a family member for your child's care can create an enormous amount of stress for your family member as they must now balance the needs of his or her own family with the needs of your child.  Giving money directly to your child with special needs will most likely cause your child to go over the $2000 asset limit for SSI and Medicaid, causing them to lose these needed benefits.

There Are Better Options: Consider a Special Needs Trust 

A Special Needs Trust enables your child to continue receiving SSI and Medicaid benefits, because the assets are never "owned" by your child. The Special Needs Trust continues to own the assets, with a Trustee who manages the assets. The Trustee should be someone you trust and someone who understands your child and his or her needs.

A Special Needs Trust is intended to cover your child's needs that are not funded by SSI and/or Medicaid.  Usually, the money distributed cannot be used for food, or shelter, both of which are typically covered by government assistance programs.

A Special Needs Trust can be set up as part of your Will, however, I frequently suggest that a family consider having me draft a stand-alone Special Needs Trust.  These Special Needs Trusts are a separate component of your estate plan and can allow you and other family members to contribute to the Special Needs Trust before your death.

Special Needs Trusts should be set up by an experienced Special Needs Planning Attorney.   If we can help you get started, simply call us at (571) 328-5795 to schedule 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"

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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.