Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Planning News
 Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law
In This Issue:
Cruising Made Easier For People With Special Needs
Navigating Disney World When a Loved One Has Special Needs
Three Special Needs Planning Myths
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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.

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Source: Reprinted from the February 2020 Newsletter of Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law, 


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Issue: #131

February 2020

As many of you know, I love Disney World! I enjoy the parks, the characters, and of course, the Florida sun.

I continue to be impressed by the services and accommodations offered by Disney  for those with special needs . There are now dedicated break rooms located throughout the parks so that individuals who become overstimulated can reset and recharge. And, there are now options similar to Disney's "Fast Pass" that help people with disabilities avoid waiting in long lines. I talk about some of the other accessible options that Disney offers in the feature article below for those who might be interesting in visiting the parks.
Cruising is another great vacation option when you are traveling with a loved one who has special needs. "Autism on the Seas" is one specific group who I've seen in action over the years and they are fantastic. I've shared some more information about them below.
Vacations are important -- especially for those of you who are caregivers. Even if you cannot get away alone, there are options that can still make traveling as a family relatively easy, inclusive and surprisingly relaxing. As the old saying goes, "you can only give what you have..." so take the time to invest in yourself and your mental well-being.
Have a great month,

Cruising Made Easier For People With Special Needs
I have gotten many requests for information on vacation options for families who have members with special needs.
"Autism on the Seas," provides cruise vacation services to accommodate adults and families who have children with  special needs, including, but not limited to, Autism, Down Syndrome, Tourette Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and all Cognitive, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.    

On regularly scheduled cruises  on board Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, Disney and Carnival Cruise Lines, the staff of "Autism on the Seas" provides specialized respite and private activities that allow guests the use of the ships entertainment venues in an accommodated and assisted manner.   

For more information, call 1-800-516-5247  or  visit their website at:

Navigating Disney World When a Loved One Has Special Needs
Is a Disney vacation on your family's bucket list, but you are worried about visiting the parks or other Disney attractions with a child who has special needs?
The great news is that Disney offers many inclusive accommodations and special services for families who have loved ones with autism and other disabilities. With a little bit of advanced planning, you can chart out a Disney vacation that is as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Plan to Avoid Lines
Disney recommends pre-purchasing park tickets when you have a loved one with autism or other disabilities. Doing so can help avoid waiting in long lines in hot or rainy weather.
"Fast Passes" are Disney's most well-known way to "pre-schedule" a time on a ride so as to avoid waiting in long lines. However, individuals with special needs can access additional scheduling options through Disney's Disability Access Service. The service allows guests to schedule a return time that is comparable to the current wait for the specific attraction. Once the return time is issued, the individual no longer has to wait in the line and can come back at the designated time scheduled. Unlike "Fast Passes," that are limited to three rides per day, the Disability Access Service only stipulates that the guests schedule one active return at a time with no daily limit. These special passes can also be used in combination with traditional "Fast Passes."
Locate Break Areas and Research Attractions
Disney offers special break areas to provide space and comfort for children and adults who may become overstimulated. The break areas are spread out among the parks, so it's a wise idea to get familiar with each location on a map before it's needed.
It's also recommended that parents research in advance the rides, shows or other attractions that their children may want to visit. Disney offers detailed information about the types of stimulation,  such as loud noises or bright flashing lights,  that could be troubling to those with special needs. If there is a particular trigger your family tries to avoid, you can also contact a representative at Disney Disability Services at (407) 560-2547 for guidance as you navigate your options.
Food Accommodations
Disney offers a variety of options for those who have allergies, food sensitivity ... or are just picky eaters! Children with allergies or food sensitivity are also allowed to bring their own food into the parks. Finally, the chefs at each on-site restaurant strive to be accommodating and they do their best to honor meal requests made in advance for individuals with dietary restrictions.
Need More Guidance?
For all of the ins and outs of Disney services that are available to individuals with autism or other disabilities, visitors can visit  Disney's website by clicking here.
Three Special Needs Planning Myths
Parents who have children with special needs spend a lot of time thinking about the future. They may wonder, "Who will care for my child when I'm gone?" or "How will we afford a lifetime of care?" The answers to these questions can feel so overwhelming that parents may feel "stuck" when it comes to creating a legal plan.
Parents may also have prior assumptions about special needs planning that can cause them to veer off track. We call them "Special Needs Planning Myths," and making decisions based on these myths can be just as dangerous as indecision or procrastination. Here are three that we commonly hear in our office:
  1. "I already have a Will" is one of the most common responses parents have when they are encouraged to meet with a special needs planning lawyer. The problem is that a Will only comes into play after the parent dies. This document does nothing to ensure someone can oversee the disabled individual's care if the parent is incapacitated or gets sick, nor does it help to deal with any medical or financial needs that the child may have during his or her lifetime. Likewise, any assets left in a Will to a child with special needs will go to him or her outright, which can cause essential benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to stop.
  2. "My other kids will look after my child with disabilities" is something we often hear from parents when creating a special needs plan. The parents may even choose to leave their child with disabilities completely out of their Wills to protect public benefits, with the understanding that the other siblings will share the inheritance with their brother or sister.  While we all hope that loving siblings would take care of a brother or sister with special needs, so many things can go wrong that puts the disabled child's assets at risk. For example, what if one of the other siblings gets divorced or gets sued or winds up in debt? What if the sibling accidentally spends the money? Or what if the sibling passes away before the child with special needs? These scenarios are just too risky when it comes to planning for a child who may be completely dependent on others for a lifetime of care.
  3. "I don't have enough assets" is another common objection to creating a special needs plan. However, special needs planning is about more than money. Part of planning also deals with the process of gaining legal guardianship, so that parents have the right to make decisions for their adult child with special needs once he or she turns 18. These rights are not automatically granted to a parent, and there is a specific Court process the family will need to go through for the right to stay in control. On the financial side, planning now allows others with resources to safely contribute to the child's future well-being. For example, family and friends can give money directly to a Special Needs Trust. There are also other inexpensive ways to fund a child's special needs plan, such as taking out a life insurance policy that will transfer to the Special Needs Trust once the parent passes away.  Normally, the younger the parent is when he or she sets up such a policy, the lower the premiums will be.
If you'd like more information about setting up a special needs plan in a way that meets all of your child's unique needs without falling into the trappings of some of the myths we mention above, please call the office to set up an appointment.
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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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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Our office is also accessible by public transportation.


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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.