Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Planning News
 Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law
In This Issue:
The Dangers of DIY Planning-Especially When You Have a Child with Special Needs!
The End of The Year is a Great Time to Review Your Child's Special Needs Trust
Social Security Launches New Online Scam Reporting Form
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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 November 2019 Newsletter of Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law, 


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Issue: #128

November 2019

It's hard to believe that the holiday season is already here. Since we are all thinking about what we are thankful for, in honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I'd share some things on my gratitude list this year.
  1. My son is home from college for Thanksgiving. We normally go to New Jersey to see my parents but because he's only in town until Sunday, we're going to stay local this year.
  2. My family. I'm a little sad to not see them this week, but I'm looking forward to getting together with them over my son's Christmas break.
  3. Thanksgiving turkey dinner. It's my favorite meal of all time. I'm not cooking it though; we're planning to eat out.
  4. I got to see a World Series game---Way to Go Nationals!  Going to a World Series game was on my "bucket list"--which I'm a huge believer in having. The only sporting event left to attend on my list is the Super Bowl.
  5. I'm thankful for our clients and referral sources. This is the truth. Thank you for all of your support and for allowing me the privilege of making a difference for people with disabilities and special needs.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

The Dangers of DIY Planning-Especially When You Have a Child with Special Needs!
With today's technology, access to information is literally in the palm of our hands. From your cell phone, you can download manuals to repair a washing machine that's thirty years old or watch step-by-step video tutorials that will teach you how to do anything from knitting a sweater to playing an instrument without taking a single lesson.
However, just because you can do something yourself doesn't always mean you should. Special Needs Planning is an example of something that may seem easy to take care of by yourself or by using an online program, but in most cases, legal planning is one area where you should resist the urge to D-I-Y.  Much like botching a DIY kitchen remodel, mistakes in special needs planning can be expensive to fix. Ultimately, do-it-yourself legal planning could end up costing you or your family more than if you had just hired a professional from the start. Here are a few reasons why:
Lack of Advice
An online service can't provide you with personalized, professional legal advice on what's best for your situation, and based on your child's unique needs. Sure, it can ask you a few questions and an algorithm can come up with some suggestions based on your responses, but it's not going to be able to ask every question that needs to be asked or answer any questions that you may have.  A Special Needs Planning Attorney, however, can sit down and have a discussion with you about your family situation, your financial status, your short and long-term wishes for your child, any conflicts that could arise from your decisions (e.g. why your child could become ineligible for Medicaid and SSI benefits if you leave him or her an inheritance the wrong way) and other important issues that need to be considered when drawing up your documents.
Addressing State Laws
There is not one set of laws that apply to children and adults with special needs. In fact, programs such as Medicaid (which is the health insurance program utilized by many individuals with special needs) is a federal program that is administered differently by each state. Benefits that you may have heard are available to disabled persons in other parts of the country may not apply in your state and vice versa. There may also be programs for individuals with special needs available on the county level. Online programs or "DIY planning kits" are not equipped to understand the nuances of each program and their eligibility requirements. As such, any decisions you make in your planning could have repercussions when it comes to accessing these different benefits---or you may miss out on benefits all together because the DIY program does not offer counseling and information on what's ultimately available for your family.
Being Your Voice
When you hire a Special Needs Planning Attorney, you'll get the personal service that a website cannot offer. They're not going to just sit behind a desk and plug in names and dollar amounts as if it's a game of legal "Mad Libs." Instead, your attorney will help you explore your options and discuss your wishes thoroughly. Likewise, some elements of special needs planning require court involvement, such as petitioning for a Guardianship when the individual turns 18. These proceedings can be complicated and once again, your attorney will be by your side to ensure the best outcome.
Even if you think your personal situation is simple enough that documents such as your Special Needs Trust can be done using a form or template on a website, at least look into an appointment with a local attorney. There's a good chance that it will be less expensive than you thought. With that said, if you'd like to meet me to discuss your options, simply call the office to schedule an appointment.

The End of The Year is a Great Time to Review Your Child's Special Needs Trust
Working with a Special Needs Planning Attorney to create a trust for your child with special needs is an important part of preparing for his or her future. In order to make sure that the Special Needs Trust stays relevant to your family's needs, however, it is important to review it annually.   At this point, you are able to reflect on any changes that have taken place in your life or that of your loved one so that you can update the trust to reflect those changes. The end of the year is a great time to check this important task off the "to do" list.
During your annual review, you will want to ask some questions to evaluate whether or not any changes need to be made to the Special Needs Trust or your family's overall estate plan. Here are some things to consider:

1. Have your assets changed? The purchase of property or other major change in assets over the past year should be considered when reviewing the trust. You want to be sure that all of them are properly accounted for in your planning. If an asset is accidentally passed down to your child outside of the Special Needs Trust, it could sabotage any planning you worked to put in place.

2. Does the plan still fit the need? When major changes come up, they can necessitate changes in the Special Needs Trust. Perhaps there is a new medical treatment that has become available for your loved one. If your original plan does not meet the costs for continued care, it may be time to amend your original trust.

3. Have you named the best successor trustees? Life circumstances change, and someone who was named as a trustee at one point may no longer be the right choice. For example, maybe you named a grandparent to serve as successor trustee, but that grandparent is now dealing with healthcare challenges of his or her own. Whether health or life changes have impacted someone's ability to perform the task, a change should be made to the Special Needs Trust.

4. Are you still able to act as your loved one's trustee? While parents typically serve as the initial trustee of their child's Special Needs Trust, there are times when this becomes a less desirable option. If the parent is in poor physical health or is beginning to suffer from dementia, for example, it is very important to discuss this with an Special Needs Planning lawyer.

If you have questions after doing your annual review this year, please do not hesitate to contact us to schedule an appointment so that we can discuss those changes that you recognize and possibly to uncover those changes that you did not even realize would have an impact on your special needs plan.

Social Security Launches New Online Scam Reporting Form
The Social Security Administration has just announced a new tool to fight against Social Security related scams.
Social Security has created an online form, with which scams can be reported. Information gathered through these reports will be used to help investigate frauds and scams.
Calls in which scammers convince a person to buy gift cards or mail cash in response to phony Social Security problems have become the number one form of fraud reported to Social Security and the Federal Trade Commission.
Social Security will never issue a threat or promise benefits in exchange for money or information. Anyone who receives such calls should hang up.   If there are legitimate problems related to an individual's Social Security account, they will be notified by mail.
Over-the-phone (robocalls and live callers), text-based, emails, online and in-person scams can be reported through the online form which can be found 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.