How To Use Funds From a Special Needs Trust

Special Needs Trusts are in place to protect the benefits of an adult or child with special needs and are exempt from Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). A properly drafted special needs trust gives (you) the trustee, or someone you appoint, the sole discretion to use the funds for the benefit of your family member. A question I get asked often is what can I use the funds for, and are there any limitations?

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Vax-a-Million Winnings and Your Benefits

This week the state of Ohio will begin a series of drawings to increase the awareness of the availability and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, and to provide a million dollar incentive for Ohioans who’ve been vaccinated.

What does winning the Vax-a-Million mean for your benefits? Attorney George Aljoe answers some commonly asked questions concerning your benefits and the Vax-a-Million winnings.

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Special Needs Insights – Retirement Planning

Hickman & Lowder Co., L.P.A. is excited to continue our Special Needs Insights series. Our short videos are designed 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: Planning for Retirement

Attorney Ethan Welch provides tips on planning for retirement when you have an adult child with a disability.

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Elder Law Talks Episode 3

Hickman & Lowder Co., L.P.A. is excited to continue our Elder Law Talks series. Our short videos are designed to help you expand your awareness, reduce your stress and redefine what is possible as you advocate for your loved one.

This week’s episode: Parents of an Adult Child with Disabilities – What Happens When You Need Care Yourself?


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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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