Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Planning News
 from
 Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law
In This Issue:
What Should A Social Security Representative Payee Do and Not Do?
Can I Use an Online Template to Draft a Special Needs Trust?
Special Needs Planning in the Age of The Pandemic
Picture of Sheri Abrams

Sheri R. Abrams 
Attorney at Law

10467 White Granite Drive
Suite 306
Oakton, VA 22124

(571) 328-5795
 
Please see our website at:


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Issue: #136

July 2020

 
    
As much as I've enjoyed meeting with so many of you in the parking lot of my office building for "drive by" document signings over the past few months, I am looking forward to a bit more normalcy as our office building tests out a "soft opening" for tenants and soon to be for clients.
 
As soon as we get the green light for in-person appointments, I'll reach out to let you know. In the meantime, I am continuing to provide virtual meetings via phone or Zoom video conferencing for anyone who would like to "meet."
 
In personal news, August is a big birthday month in my family. My dad is turning 89 and my mom is turning 85. Shortly after, in September, my parents will be celebrating their 64th wedding anniversary.
 
Not seeing my parents (who live in New Jersey) has been tough, and I know that many of you are in the same boat. It feels like we are all at a "crossroads" of sorts... things are slowly opening but there is still a good deal of hesitation and anxiety when it comes to visiting with elderly parents, going back to work or making decisions about sending our kids off to school or college.
 
I don't have the answers, but as a lawyer, I can help you be prepared for whatever happens. If you don't have a health care or financial power of attorney in place in the event you get sick and can't manage your own affairs, or if you don't have a Will (or your Will is old and needs to be updated), please hit "reply" and we can work together to create these important documents that every adult should have in place, especially during a pandemic.
 
Finally, I was honored to have been asked by the Virginia State Bar to write the updated section on Social Security for the newly updated 2020 version of the Senior Citizen Handbook. The Senior Citizen Handbook is an extensive resource for seniors, their families, and their caregivers in order to provide overviews and contact information for the many issues, opportunities, and choices facing senior Virginians today.
 
If you would like a free copy, it is available by clicking here.

Sheri
 
P.S. In a previous newsletter, I shared that the Social Security Administration had launched a new online tool that makes it easier to document your choice of a Representative Payee who can manage your Social Security benefits if you cannot handle your own affairs. However, the job of Representative Payee comes with a lot of responsibilities, which you can read about in the article below.
 
What Should A Social Security Representative Payee Do and Not Do?

Sometimes, people who receive Social Security Benefits are not able to handle their own funds. In those cases, the Social Security Administration (SSA) appoints a family member, friend, or another individual or organization to handle their Social Security benefits.
 
Responsibilities of a Representative Payee:
 
Some of the duties of a Representative Payee include:
 
Determining the beneficiary's total needs and using the Social Security benefits received in the best interests of the beneficiary;
 
Maintaining a continuing awareness of the beneficiary's needs and condition;
 
Applying the Social Security Benefit payments only for the beneficiary's own use and benefit; and
 
Reporting to SSA any event that will affect the amount of benefits the beneficiary receives and in some cases to give SSA written reports accounting for the use of the benefits.
 
What Representative Payees Should NOT Do:
 
Representative Payees cannot:
 
Use a beneficiary's funds for their own personal expenses, or spend funds in a way that would leave the beneficiary without necessary items or services (housing, food and medical care);
 
Put a beneficiary's Social Security funds in the Representative Payee's or another person's account;
 
Keep funds once he or she is no longer a Representative Payee for the beneficiary; and
 
Charge the beneficiary a fee for services unless authorized by the Social Security Administration to do so.
 
Reporting Violations:
 
If you feel that a Representative Payee has in some way misused the benefits being issued for a beneficiary, you should contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.

Can I Use an Online Template to Draft a Special Needs Trust?

I have been asked: "Can I use an online template or do-it-yourself service to create my child's Special Needs Trust?"
 
A Special Needs Trust is a very complex legal tool that rarely works as a "one-size-fits-all" solution.  I'd venture to say that the majority of online templates or DIY software programs that create Special Needs Trusts are  not  sufficient for most families and would cause many unintended consequences. 
 
A DIY program can't understand the complexities of your family or your child's unique needs.  It also won't tell you what you are MISSING that could hurt your child when you are no longer around to protect him or her.
 
Not to mention, laws vary from state to state and eligibility for programs that your child may depend on are also complex and difficult to account for on a generic, "one-size-fits-all" document.
 
For example, the eligibility rules for Medicaid are different from those for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and both of those are different from Section 8 housing.  Many of the decisions made by a Trustee can have devastating consequences for the individual with special needs and their ability to access critical government programs.
 
Further, without having detailed knowledge, families (and even some inexperienced lawyers) make the mistake of putting a "Medicaid pay-back" provision into the Trust rather than allowing the remainder of the Trust to go to others upon the death of the individual with special needs. While Medicaid pay-back provisions are required in some types of Special Needs Trusts, an attorney who knows the difference can save your family thousands of dollars, or more.
 
So, while it is possible to create a Special Needs Trust using an online template, it is not likely to produce the best results for your child or your family.
 
If you have questions about Special Needs Trusts or want to get started drafting one, please call our office to set up an appointment.

Special Needs Planning in the Age of The Pandemic

Click the image below to watch a video I recorded with information on Special Needs Planning during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
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"

Picture of Book
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.

Referrals


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.