Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Planning News
 Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law
In This Issue:
Study Finds That Very Few Parents Have Planned Ahead to Protect Their Child with Disabilities
New Law Strengthens Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries by Improving the Representative Payee Program
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Source: Reprinted from the April 2018 Newsletter of Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law,


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Issue: #109

 April 2018

I am back from Memphis where I had a gr eat time enjoying Graceland and all things Elvis over spring break. 
This month also happens to be the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's death, and we had an opportunity while we were down there, to tour the Lorraine Motel where he was assassinated.  The motel is now a civil rights museum and it's a must-visit if you're ever in Memphis.
Of course we also enjoyed a ton of BBQ. It was a wonderful experience to check off my bucket list!
In legal news, I came across a study this week that found that most parents surveyed do not have plans in place to protect their child with special needs should something happen to mom and dad.
That statistic is so troubling to me as children with disabilities are normally completely reliant on their parents to ensure that they have a smooth transition into adulthood, and that the child will be well taken care of if he or she outlives their parents.  You can read the results of the survey and my tips for overcoming the obstacles that hold families back from planning in the feature article below.
If you discover that it's time to get a plan in place for your family, please call the office.  Our main focus here is special needs planning and we make it easy and stress-free for you to make important decisions in order to protect your child, both now and in the future.
Just call the office at  (571) 328-5795  and ask to schedule an appointment.  I promise that you will leave with a sense of empowerment and peace of mind that you didn't realize you were missing.
Have a great month,


Study Finds That Very Few Parents Have Planned Ahead to Protect Their Child with Disabilities 

I read something recently that I found surprising.  A study published this month in the Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities reports that only 3.6% of parents surveyed, who have  children with intellectual and develop-mental disabilities, have established legal guardianship, done Estate Planning (such as a Special Needs Trust) or have a plan for housing for their child in the event the child outlives them.
Thanks to improvements in healthcare, more and more individuals with disabilities are outliving their parents. So, why aren't parents taking steps to avoid a crisis situation regarding their child's future? 61%  of the parents who hadn't planned indicated that cost, lack of time and stress are the primary barriers to planning.
Believe me, I understand that.
Oftentimes parents are consumed with day-to-day activities for their child and there are just so many hours in the day. The thing is, I've seen the other side of the situation far too many times. When the parents of disabled individuals pass, there is often chaos and confusion. This happens even if there is a sibling willing to step in and take over care of their brother and sister. Without the proper legal documentation in place, there can be a period of turmoil while a court process takes place.
One other interesting fact from the study was that 39% of respondents reported a lack of information as a barrier to future planning.  Again, this is understandable. While there are reputable sources to be found online, there is a lot of confusion about special needs planning.

If you are reading this newsletter and searching for reliable information about planning for your child, you are in the right place. Special needs planning is one of my key practice areas and I have a particular passion around educating the public.

If you'd like assistance, simply call our office at (571) 328-5795 and schedule an appointment. We'd be happy to answer your questions and help you map out a plan that ensures your child will be protected through all of life's transitions.

New Law Strengthens Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries by Improving the Representative Payee Program

The Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 (H.R. 4547) became law on April 13, 2018, when it was signed by the President.
The Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act makes much-needed changes to the representative payee program to strengthen oversight and beneficiary protections, while improving payee selection and quality.
A representative payee is a person who acts as the receiver of Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for a person who is not fully capable of managing their own benefits. Unfortunately, there have been many representative payees who have stolen or misused funds.   Hopefully this new law will help protect people with disabilities from financial exploitation, abuse and neglect.
What Does This New Law Do?
1)   Strengthens oversight of representative payees by requiring additional types of onsite reviews of payee performance, increasing the number of reviews, and improving the effectiveness of reviews by requiring the Protection and Advocacy system of each state to conduct the reviews, on behalf of the Social Security Administration (SSA).
2) Reduces the burden on families by eliminating the requirement to file the annual accounting form for representative payees who are parents living with their child or adult child who has a disability, or who are spouses. (This is especially good news for many of my clients).
3) Protects the most vulnerable beneficiaries through improved information-sharing by requiring the SSA to identify whether a beneficiary is in foster care and reassess whether the payee is appropriate; and - in order to help identify beneficiaries who may need a payee, and to oversee the performance of payees - providing for a feasibility study to improve coordination between Adult Protective Services and the SSA, and directing the SSA to study how to exchange information with state courts regarding individuals with guardians.
4) Improves payee selection by allowing beneficiaries to make an advance designation of their preferred payee and by requiring the SSA to assess the appropriateness of the order-of-preference list it uses to select payees. (This also is especially good news as it should speed up disability payments).
5) Ensures that no beneficiary has a barred payee by codifying the policy that bans individuals with certain criminal convictions from serving as payees (including individuals currently serving as payees) and prohibiting individuals who have payees from serving as a payee for others.

H.R. 4547 is available to be read here.

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

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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


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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.