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1 step every parent of a special needs child should take

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2022 | Special Needs Trusts |

When you have a child with special needs, you never really stop worrying about their future. In fact, you may have plans to eventually create a special needs trust to help fund a more stable, comfortable future for them once you’re gone. 

In the meantime, as soon as your disabled child turns 18 years of age, you need to help them file for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. 

Won’t my child be ineligible for SSI because of my income? 

You may have filed for SSI benefits on your child’s behalf in the past and been told that your income and assets made them ineligible. However, once your child is a legal adult, none of your assets or income matter. 

What if I can afford to provide for my disabled child right now? 

Even if you can comfortably afford to take care of your child, for the time being, you should still help them apply for SSI benefits now – because that can make it much easier for them to qualify later for benefits as a Disabled Adult Child (DAC). 

An adult with a disability that started prior to age 22 can eventually be entitled to a child’s benefit on their parent’s Social Security record once that parent either retires, becomes disabled or dies. Establishing your child’s disability now via an SSI claim can make their right to DAC benefits crystal clear later. 

Entitlement to DAC benefits has several advantages over SSI benefits: 

  • They are often higher than SSI benefits, which are capped at $841 per month in 2022.
  • DAC benefits are not needs-based, which means that they are not subject to the income limits or strict rules that have to be followed to retain SSI eligibility. That can broaden your estate planning options in regard to your child’s future.
  • Two years after DAC benefits are begun, the beneficiary can obtain Medicare, which can alleviate a significant financial burden on their family when it comes to medical care.

Effective estate planning for your child with special needs can’t really be done until you know exactly what benefits your child will ultimately receive. That is why it is crucial to start taking steps to secure your child’s future right away.

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