Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Planning News
 Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law
In This Issue:
How to Choose a Trustee for a Special Needs Trust
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Releases ABLE Account Guidance
Social Security Adds 4 New Compassionate Allowances Conditions
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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.
Upcoming Event

Able Accounts Vs. Special Needs Trusts

Thursday, October 3, 2019
9:30 am - 12:00 pm

Sheri will be joining Tia Marsili, Director of Trusts from The Arc of Northern Virginia, in an informative presentation for families who have members with special needs and community members.  This session will provide an overview of ABLE Accounts in Virginia and when this type of account may be appropriate, as well as an overview of three different types of Special Needs Trusts. Included will be the similarities and differences among these three trusts and when each type should be used. 


Disability Resource Center 
3rd Floor
10467 White Granite Drive
Oakton, VA 22124

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


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Issue: #126

September 2019

I'm thrilled that the fall is finally here and I'm looking forward to a new (and cooler!) season ahead. I hope September is also treating you well so far.
Last week, I attended Parent's Weekend at my son's college. I'm really happy with his school choice and he seems to be adjusting well. But, I'm still counting down the days until Thanksgiving when he gets to come home!
Finally, here at the firm we are getting ready to celebrate Special Needs Law Month in October. A large portion of our practice is dedicated to serving children and adults with disabilities, and those who love them! We know how difficult it can be to obtain benefits to pay for care, deal with government agencies, protect assets and fight for basic needs that a loved one deserves. That's why we are committed to serving local families in this unique area of the law because we know how important it is that they receive this guidance and support.
With that said, if you or a loved one is disabled and you've been wanting to sit down with us to ask some questions and learn more about Special Needs Planning, please feel free to hit "reply" to this email or call the office to set up an appointment.

Have a great month,

How to Choose a Trustee for a Special Needs Trust 
One of the key elements of setting up a special needs trust is choosing the right person to act as the trustee. The person you choose will be responsible for investing the trust's assets, distributing assets to the beneficiary, and making sure that the beneficiary maintains their eligibility for public benefit programs. In most cases, this individual is usually a parent or other family member or friend. Others opt to have the trust managed by a professional Trust Company.  If you're struggling to decide who should be appointed as the Trustee for your special needs trust, there are a few things you should consider.
Knowledge of Benefit Programs
Because one of the most important duties of a trustee of a special needs trust is maintaining the beneficiary's eligibility for public benefit programs, they should be familiar with things like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.  They'll need to be able to understand the rules for each of the programs.  If they are having issues understanding the rules, they need to be willing to work with an Attorney who can offer them assistance on adhering to those rules.
Willingness and Availability
Acting as a trustee of a special needs trust can take a lot of time and effort. The trustee is responsible for the daily functions of the trust, including paying the bills and managing public benefits. They act as the liaison between the beneficiary and the organizations providing the services for the beneficiary. The amount of time involved could be too much for someone who has a family and a full-time job. Be sure that the person you choose can commit to the responsibility.
Appointing a Professional
If you don't have an immediate family member or trusted friend who is capable of acting as a trustee for your special needs trust, you do have the option of choosing a professional, such as a trust company, to act as the trustee.  A trust company should have the necessary knowledge about benefit programs, money management, and tax laws and will also not have the emotional attachment that might make decision making difficult.
Of course, having that emotional attachment may be something you're looking for in a trustee.
Using a Pooled Trust
An alternative to an individual special needs trust is something known as a pooled trust. Managed by a non-profit organization, a pooled trust uses the combined assets of multiple beneficiaries for investments which provide access to alternative opportunities and reduces the cost of administrative fees.  A pooled trust is especially helpful in situations where the size of the trust is on the modest side.
Regardless of whether you choose a family member, a trust company, or an organization with a pooled trust, the key factors are the same. They should be informed, organized, and ethical.
If you have additional questions about setting up a special needs trust for your loved one, simply contact our office  to schedule an appointment.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Releases ABLE Account Guidance
Since 2014, people with disabilities and their families have had access to a particular type of savings account that offers tax advantages. The Achieving a Better Life Act, also referred to as the ABLE Act, created ABLE accounts that allowed the beneficiary of the account to be the account owner, and income earned from the account would not be taxed.  Anyone can contribute to the account as long as the contribution does not exceed $15,000 per year and the account total is $100,000 or less. The money in the account is to be used for any expenses related to the beneficiary's disability.
While it was clear that ABLE accounts would not affect the beneficiary's eligibility for programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), there was no word from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on if, or how ABLE accounts would affect eligibility for HUD programs like Section 8 and public housing.
Finally, in 2019, HUD issued a notice to Public Housing Directors, Managers, and Administrators titled "Treatment of ABLE Accounts in HUD-Assisted Programs." The notice addresses the issue of ABLE accounts and their effect on eligibility for public housing, Section 8 vouchers, and other federal housing programs.  Fortunately for those who benefit from these programs, HUD has upheld the intentions of the ABLE Act by announcing that ABLE accounts should "supplement, not supplant" public benefits including HUD's housing programs.
The notice specifically states:

"Section 103 of the ABLE Act mandates that an individual's ABLE account (specifically, its account balance, contributions
to the account, and distributions from the account) is excluded/ disregarded when determining the designated beneficiary's eligibility and continued occupancy under certain federal means-tested programs."
In other words, funds in a beneficiary's ABLE account will not be counted as assets when determining eligibility for federal housing programs. There is, however, an exception.  Money deposited into the ABLE account that comes from the earned wages of the account holder will count as an asset. Money that comes from a third party's wages, on the other hand, will not count towards the beneficiary's assets if they are deposited into the ABLE account.
If you have additional questions about how the funds in a child's ABLE account may impact specific benefits, or if you'd like to learn about special needs planning for your family, contact us to schedule an appointment.

Social Security Adds 4 New Compassionate Allowances Conditions
The Social Security Administration has expanded its list of conditions qualifying for expedited processing for disability benefits. The 4 new Compassionate Allowances conditions brings the total number of conditions on the Compassionate Allowances list to 237.

The Compassionate Allowances program reduces the time it takes to make decisions on disability applications filed by claimants with the most serious disabilities, so they receive decisions on their claims within days, instead of months or years.
The new conditions are:
CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder;
Pitt Hopkins Syndrome;
Primary Peritoneal Cancer; and
Richter Syndrome.
To see the complete list of Compassionate Allowances conditions, please click  here.

Free Download of Sheri Abrams' 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"

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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.