Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Planning News
 Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law
In This Issue:
Social Security Announces 0.3 Percent Benefit Increase for 2017
Special Needs Trust Fairness and Medicaid Improvement Act Passes the U.S. House
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Source: Reprinted from the October 2016 Newsletter of Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law,


Issue: # 92

 October 2016

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Welcome to our monthly newsletter. 

These monthly newsletters are designed to provide useful information on Disability Law & Issues with a special emphasis on Social Security Disability & Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and Special Needs Trusts & Planning.

You may have been added to our e-mail newsletter mailing list if you are a client, business associate, a Facebook friend, a Linked-In connection, or another professional contact of Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law. 

You may unsubscribe by clicking on the link at the end of this e-mail.
Social Security Announces 0.3 Percent Benefit Increase for 2017

2017 Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 64 million Americans will increase 0.3 percent in 2017. 

The 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin in January 2017 for the more than 60 million people who receive Social Security Retirement and Disability benefits.  The maximum Social Security benefit will increase to $2,687 a month.

Increased payments to the more than 8 million people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will begin on December 30, 2016.  The amount of SSI will increase to $735 a month for a person, $1103 a month for a couple.

The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages.

Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $127,200 from $118,500.

Of the estimated 173 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2017, about 12 million will pay higher taxes because of this increase in the taxable maximum.

Other important changes next year include:

-----Significant Gainful Activity (SGA) increasing to $1,170 a month; and

-----a Trial Work Period (TWP) increasing to $840 a month.

Information about Medicare changes for 2017, when announced, will be available at:

For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated.  To read more, please visit: 

Special Needs Trust Fairness and Medicaid Improvement Act Passes the U.S. House

U.S. House On September 20th, the U.S. House of Representatives, by a margin of 383 to 22, approved the Special Needs Trust Fairness and Medicaid Improvement Act, H.R. 670.

The significance of this legislation, if it passes the Senate and is signed into law by the President, is that it will remove the legal barriers that prevent people with disabilities from independently creating Special Needs Trusts.

This bill corrects Section 1917(d)(4)(A) of the Social Security Act created in 1993 when First-Party or Self-Settled Special Needs Trusts were first recognized by Congress. 

Currently, under Section 1917(d)(4)(A) individuals with disabilities are required to either have a parent, grandparent or legal guardian establish a First-Party or Self-Settled Special Needs Trust, or they must petition a Court to do so on their behalf, regardless of their capacities. 

This can result in burdensome and unnecessary legal fees and extended wait times for creating Special Needs Trusts, which are most often used to supplement daily living and care expenses.

If passed this new law would allow individuals who have disabilities and who also have the requisite capacity necessary to execute a First-Party or Self-Settled Special Needs Trust, to do so themselves.

Special Needs Trusts come in two basic types: Third Party and Self-Settled or First-Party.

A Third-Party Special Needs Trust is one which is set up and funded by a grantor who is not also the disabled beneficiary.  An example would be a grandparent or parent who wants to give or leave a disabled person money in life or at the time of their deaths.

The assets held in a Third-Party Special Needs Trust are not counted against the disabled persons countable resources for SSI or Medicaid purposes.

Upon the death of the disabled beneficiary, if there are still assets being held in the Third Party Special Needs Trust, then the remaining assets can pass to the designated beneficiaries named in the trust, with no payback to Medicaid.

A Self-Settled or First Party Special Needs Trust is funded by the assets of the grantor, who is also the disabled beneficiary.  This type of trust is normally funded by personal injury settlements or inheritances that were paid directly to a disabled person.  

By having the disabled person's money transferred into a Self-Settled or First-Party Special Needs Trust, these assets will not be counted as a resource by SSI or Medicaid.

When the disabled beneficiary dies with assets in a Self-Settled or First-Party Special Needs Trust, these assets must be paid to Medicaid up to the amount that Medicaid provided to the disabled person during their lifetime. This is called a payback provision.

If the Special Needs Trust Fairness and Medicaid Improvement Act is successfully passed and signed into law, a disabled person would be able to create and fund their own Self-Settled or First-Party Special Needs Trust assuming they had capacity.

For more information on H.R, 670, click here.

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

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We provide legal services in the areas of Social Security Disability Law, Special Needs Planning, Elder Law, Special Needs Trusts, Wills and Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Advance Medical Directives, Guardianship, Disability Planning and Student Loan Discharge. 
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