Hickman & Lowder Introduces Special Needs Insights

Hickman & Lowder Co., L.P.A. is excited to share its Special Needs Insights series. We will regularly be sharing short videos to help you expand your awareness, reduce your stress and redefine what is possible as you advocate for your loved one.

This week’s insight: Special Needs Planning

In our first installment of Special Needs Insights, Attorney David Banas stresses the need for a vision, taking small steps and building your plan from there..

 

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Zoned Out – A Brief History

The institutional reform movements of the 1970’s led to a significant downsizing of large facilities housing people with developmental and other disabilities.  Advocates began a concerted effort to establish community-based homes, but faced numerous obstacles, most often from local communities which used zoning and building laws as a barrier to allowing development of smaller group homes.

Getting a group home established in the 70’s and early 80’s required persuading a zoning board that the proposed home was not an institution and should be allowed in a single-family area because the group functioned as a family.   One of the first in this area was established in Lakewood after a memorable hearing where some neighbors were vocal in their fear that the residents (with developmental disabilities) were likely to molest the neighborhood children.  Zoning was finally approved despite these fears.

Another approach was used in Shaker Heights which adopted a group home ordinance after literally years of study and neighborhood meetings.  Most cities, however, continued to use zoning restrictions to keep the homes out of single-family neighborhoods.

Two developments changed the picture.  In 1985, the US Supreme Court in City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center., Inc. held that there was no rational basis for communities to exclude family-style group homes in residential areas.

Then came the 1988 amendments to the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which extended the protections of the FHA to people with disabilities.  More specifically, the FHA prohibited cities from excluding group homes in areas zoned for families.  Numerous

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Raising Expectations

As part of my job, I attend a lot of conferences and presentations. One of the presentations I attended recently featured a whole myriad of people who had their opportunity to dazzle us at the podium.  (Maybe “dazzle” is a lofty goal for a continuing education course.  The goal was probably to keep us awake and not misspeak!)  One of those speakers was a man I’ll call Clark.  Clark entered side-stage via the ramp and rolled up in his wheelchair.  He spoke slowly and with some difficulty.  Clark’s presentation was on point and provided as much content and insight as the rest.  It was no better than the one before it and no worse than the one that followed. It was average.  Yet, when Clark uttered his final sentence something happened in the audience.  Almost in slow motion, I noticed audience members begin to rise to their feet. One lead. Another followed. And another and another until half the room, hundreds of people, were on their feet, grinning and fervently applauding. “Oh no!,” I thought.  I started mumbling under my breath, “No, no! Sit down! What are you doing?!” I wanted to pull each one of them by the back of their jackets to sit them back down.  I was embarrassed for them, and I felt bad for Clark.

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Certain gifts not subject to Medicaid five-year rule

Certain Gifts Not Penalized for Medicaid Eligibility

It’s almost common knowledge that Medicaid imposes a “five-year lookback” to identify gifts made by a Medicaid applicant.  In most circumstances, if an individual who is applying for Medicaid has given away their assets within the last five years, Medicaid will penalize that individual, even if they are currently out of funds, by not paying the nursing home for a period of months determined by the size of the gift.  (Generally speaking, for every $6,570 given away, Medicaid will impose a one-month penalty.)

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Cost of Living Increase Impacts Medicaid Income Eligibility

Cost of Living Increase Impacts Medicaid Income Eligibility

On January 1, 2019, the Social Security Administration adjusted benefits upward by 2.8 percent.  The 2.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment will begin with benefits payable to more than 62 million Social Security beneficiaries.  Increased payments to more than 8 million Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries brings the maximum monthly benefit from $750 per month in 2018 to $771 per month in 2019.

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Preserving Assets While Applying for Medicaid

Preserving Assets While Applying for Medicaid

There is a misconception that one should plan on applying for Medicaid only after all the money has been spent on care. Most nursing facilities aren’t going to go out of their way to tell you all of the ways you can actively plan to preserve assets while applying for Medicaid. But there are a number of planning techniques to preserve assets for the family while ensuring that Medicaid will pay for nursing home care. There is another, related misconception that nothing can be done if you didn’t plan for more than five years prior to your need for long-term care.

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