Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Planning News from
 Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law,
 "Of Counsel" at Needham Mitnick & Pollack
Picture of Sheri Abrams
In This Issue
Important Changes to ADA Now in Effect
Tax Act Brings Changes to SSI & Medicaid Treatment of Refunds, Tax Credits
Sheri Abrams to Teach CLE on Social Security Disability Benefits Practice for the Virginia State Bar
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Issue: # 32March 2011
Picture of Social Security Card and Dice


Welcome to the thirty-second edition of our newsletter.

These monthly newsletters are designed to show you how not to gamble with your or your patients/clients Social Security Disability and/or SSI benefits.  We also provide you with information on Special Needs Planning.

You may have been added to our e-mail newsletter mailing list if you have been in contact with Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law or the Law Firm of Needham Mitnick & Pollack PLC.

You may unsubscribe by clicking on the link at the end of this e-mail.

Important Changes to ADA Now in Effect

Starting March 15, 2011 the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) rules have been retooled to be more user-friendly for building code officials, builders, and architects, and have been harmonized with state and local accessibility codes. The new ADA rules, for the first time, includes standards on making swimming pools, parks, golf courses, boating facilities, exercise clubs, and other recreation facilities accessible for individuals with disabilities. Entities covered by the ADA have until March 15, 2012 to comply with these new rules.


The new ADA rules also contain many new or expanded provisions on general nondiscrimination policies, including the use of service animals, the use of wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices, selling tickets for wheelchair-accessible seating at sports and performance venues, reserving and guaranteeing accessible rooms at hotels, and providing interpreter services through video conferencing.


The compliance date for the all the new nondiscrimination provisions, except for those on hotel reservations, is March 15, 2011. Compliance with the hotel reservation provisions is not required until March 15, 2012. 


For more information on these new rules please click here.


Tax Act Brings Changes to SSI & Medicaid Treatment of Refunds, Tax Credits

Tax Refunds 

Several little-noticed provisions of the recently-enacted law that extended the Bush-era tax cuts fundamentally alter how the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid programs treat tax refunds and other tax credits, making it easier for people with special needs to maintain their benefits.


The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides a small cash benefit to people with special needs who meet very stringent income and asset requirements - most SSI beneficiaries also receive Medicaid coverage. An SSI recipient's monthly cash benefit is reduced by $1 for each dollar of unearned income a beneficiary receives and by $0.50 for each dollar of earned income that a beneficiary receives for working. Unearned income includes gifts, food and shelter, and other one time payments like inheritances and lottery winnings, and, until these changes took effect, unearned income also included tax refunds and some tax credits. This meant that a SSI beneficiary could lose his benefits if he/she received a large tax refund.


Under the new law, tax refunds are no longer considered countable income for SSI or Medicaid purposes. Furthermore, any money received through a tax refund will not be a countable resource for 12 months following receipt of the funds, and SSI and Medicaid recipients will be under no obligation to segregate the funds from their other resources (SSI recipients can only keep $2,000 of resources and still qualify for benefits). Because of the change in the law, an SSI beneficiary can now retain his tax refund, even if it puts him over the $2,000 resource limit, for up to one year from the date of receipt, which is welcome news for beneficiaries who usually have to count every penny in order to avoid a disruptive loss of benefits.


The new law also changes the treatment of several other important tax credits. Under previous rules, Making Work Pay, Earned Income, Advanced Earned Income, and Child Tax Credits were all excluded as countable income for SSI and Medicaid purposes, but if the income was retained, it had to be spent within nine months of receipt. Now, the 12-month rule applies to all of these tax credits and, furthermore, First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credits that were previously countable as income and as a resource,
are now exempt and subject to the same countability rules as the other tax credits.


In one more piece of good news, the law applies to any refunds or credits received after December 31, 2009, which means that, in limited cases, applicants who were initially denied SSI or Medicaid benefits due to receipt of a tax refund or credit, may actually be retroactively eligible for benefits.  It is also believed that seniors and other people seeking Medicaid coverage for long-term care will not be subject to transfer-of-asset penalties if they give away their tax refunds or credits during the 12-month grace period.


If you would like to discuss these changes as it relates to your estate or disability planning, please contact us at Needham Mitnick & Pollack, plc.


Sheri Abrams to Teach CLE on Social Security Disability Benefits Practice for the Virginia State Bar


Live April 7th in Fairfax, April 14th in Charlottesville 


On Video Tape Throughout Virginia


Sheri has been selected by the Virginia State Bar to teach a class to other Attorneys entitled, "Establishing and Maintaining a Successful Social Security Disability Benefits Practice."


Virginia Continuing Education has approved this course for four (4) CLE credits.


For more information or to register, please click here.


Sheri Abrams' Book "Don't Gamble With Your Social Security Disability Benefits--What Every Virginia Resident Needs To Know To Win A Social Security Disability Case" Is Available.
Picture of Book 
For more information please click here to see our Press Release.
You can also download a free copy of the book at our websites:



The law firm of Needham Mitnick & Pollack, PLC, is located at:
NMP's Office Building 
400 S. Maple Avenue
Suite 210
Falls Church, VA 22046
(703) 536-7778
This is in downtown Falls Church and the office has plenty of free and accessible parking.
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If you know of someone who could use my legal services or any of the other members of the law firm of Needham Mitnick & Pollack, PLC, please forward to him/her this e-mail newsletter or give him/her our telephone number: (703) 536-7778.

We provide legal services in the areas of Social Security Disability Law , Elder Law, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Trust Administration, Powers of Attorney, Advance Medical Directives, Guardianships, Long Term Care Planning, Disability Planning, Medicaid Eligibility, Veterans Benefits and Special Needs Trusts.
If you, or someone you know, is involved with an educational event or support group that would benefit from a presentation on any of the areas of law for which we provide legal services, please call us at (703) 536-7778.