Sheri R. Abrams, P.C., Attorney at Law
Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Trusts News from
 Sheri R. Abrams, P.C. Attorney at Law
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In This Issue
What Does the Inauguration Mean to the Special Needs Community?
Don't Let Social Security Disabled Adult Children's Benefits Interfere with Medicaid Benefits
Social Security Administration Violates Rights of the Visually Impaired, Lawsuit Charges
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Issue: # 6 January 2009
Picture of Social Security Card and Dice

Welcome to the sixth edition of our newsletter.  In these monthly
newsletters we will be showing you how not to gamble with your or your patients/clients Social Security Disability and/or SSI benefits.  We will also be providing you with information on the uses of Special Needs Trusts.
What Does the Inauguration Mean to the Special Needs Community?
                                                                      Image of Wheelchair Sign
While President Obama's initial focus is the economy, those with special needs should look forward to initiatives that will create positive change.
During his campaign, President Obama's Web site offered a detailed nine-page "Plan to Empower Americans With Disabilities." The campaign's plan was divided into four parts. The first part focused on providing people with disabilities greater access to educational opportunities. As part of this plan, President Obama supported fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and creating a study of ways to improve transition to work programs.
The second part of President Obama's plan addressed discrimination against people with disabilities, and included, among other proposals, a pledge to sign universal health care legislation by the end of his first term in office that will assure that Americans with disabilities will have affordable, portable coverage that will allow them to take a job without fear of losing coverage. The plan also called for better enforcement of anti-discrimination laws through increased funding for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
President Obama plan's third part sought to increase the employment rate for people with disabilities.   President Obama set the goal of 100,000 federal employees with disabilities, and called for the creation of educational and incentive programs for employers who hire people with disabilities and a national Commission on People with Disabilities, Employment, and Social Security.
The fourth and final part of President Obama's plan supported independent community living for people with disabilities.  President Obama also proposed enforcement of court decisions granting greater access to community living, and also supported an increase in funding for the Social Security Administration to process applications for benefits in a timely manner.
Don't Let Social Security Disabled Adult Children's Benefits Interfere with Medicaid Benefits
                                                                            social security form
A child with a special need whose parent has become disabled, retired, or died, may be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance benefits based on the parent's work record. While these benefits, called Social Security Disabled
Adult Children's Benefits (DAC), are a great option for many children with special needs, recipients need to be careful that they do not lose their Medicaid benefits.
DAC benefits are available to individuals who have had a special need since before turning 22 years of age. The amount of DAC is calculated based upon the parent's work records. Once the parent's Social Security benefits are determined, the child generally will receive a percentage of such benefits.
If the individual receiving DAC benefits also receives SSI and Medicaid benefits, he or she will need to monitor the benefits closely to ensure he or she does not lose Medicaid benefits.   DAC benefits are often much higher than the SSI benefits that the individual is also receiving.   As a result, receiving DAC benefits could cause the individual to lose his or her SSI benefits.   A loss of SSI benefits may in turn cause a loss of Medicaid benefits. The loss of these benefits affects individuals who need the medical benefits more than the cash that DAC benefits provide.
Congress passed a law to ensure that Medicaid benefits were not lost. Individuals who receive DAC benefits that are high enough to cause a loss in SSI benefits may be able to retain their Medicaid benefits if they:
     -----are unmarried or married to another beneficiary who is        receiving DAC benefits;
     -----lost benefits for SSI after July 1, 1987, because of the increase in DAC benefits;
     -----had a special need before the age of 22; and
     -----would be currently eligible for SSI benefits if it wasn't for the DAC benefit.

For more general information on Social Security Disability and SSI benefits please read on.
Social Security Administration Violates Rights of the Visually Impaired, Lawsuit Charges
Scale of Justice
If you or a loved one has a visual impairment and receives some form of Social Security benefit (which includes SSDI and SSI), or if you have a visual impairment and serve as a representative payee for someone who receives a Social Security benefit, a pending class action lawsuit filed in San Francisco may affect you.
The lawsuit, authorized by the federal court in September, alleges that the Social Security Administration (SSA) violates the rights of people with visual impairments by sending official communications in formats that they cannot read. Over the years, many people with visual impairments have complained that they miss out on important information about their benefits because they are unable to read the typical Social Security notices.
The lawsuit claims that a federal law, called the Rehabilitation Act, requires the SSA to provide notices in alternate formats to people with visual impairments. Several proposals are included in the lawsuit, including sending notices in Braille, by e-mail, or on audio tape. The case is scheduled to go to trial in the spring.
If you are interested in learning more about the case, and how it may affect you or your patients/clients please contact our office.
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Our law office is located in the "Old Town
Fairfax Building," formerly known as the "Jesse Building."
                        4015 Chain Bridge Road
                                     Suite i
                             Fairfax, VA 22030
                               (703) 934-5450
We are right across the street from the Courthouse in Fairfax City, Virginia.
Free Parking (including a Handicapped parking space) is available in the lot behind the building.
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We provide legal services in the areas of Social Security Disability Law and prepare Wills, Special Needs Trusts, Living Wills, Health Care and Financial Powers of Attorney for clients in Virginia, DC and Maryland, and we are always happy to provide FREE friendly phone advice.
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