Most Georgians who have endured the pain of a divorce can attest to the enormous amounts of stress, anger and frustration that must be endured by each spouse before the process is concluded. Whatever unpleasantness may be associated with an ordinary divorce, the pain and stress of a divorce with a special needs child is usually far greater. If the parents of a special needs child have made the irrevocable decision to terminate their marriage, the following planning cautions may help ease the turmoil experienced by the parents and by the child.
For many people in Georgia, the concept of a lawyer who is knowledgeable about assisting families with special needs children or adults may seem a bit far-fetched. Nevertheless, the modern complexity of federal and state benefit programs for special needs people sometimes demands the advice of an experienced attorney to sort through the myriad of details.
Georgia provides a multitude of resources for people with special needs, both children and adults. But, what about caregivers and parents? Where can they turn when the energy for caregiving has been temporarily or even permanently exhausted? Fortunately, the needs of this vital group have not been overlooked. A number of resources can be found that are directed toward caregivers and parents of special needs children and adults.
All Georgia families with a special needs member, whether that person is a child or an adult, will benefit from careful planning for the person's future. Both state and federal government agencies provide significant assistance for special needs people, and parents and siblings can take steps to ensure that their family member is provided the necessary care and financial support.
A child or adult who has special needs often faces an uncertain financial future. The inability to work and the consequential inability to provide financial support often make financial planning impossible. For Georgians, the state provides a legal mechanism that removes much of this uncertainty. The device is called a special needs trust.
Perhaps the only thing more difficult than meeting the day-to-day challenges of a developmental disability is sorting through all of the government and non-profit programs intended to provide financial aid for people with development disabilities. Georgia provides a number of programs, and these programs are often supplemented by non-profit programs.
People in Georgia who suffer from an illness or injury that prevents them from working are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Unfortunately, many people who may be eligible for benefits view the claims process as a dark and mysterious element of the special needs planning process. Just the anxiety about filing a claim can prevent many people from seeking these benefits. Much of this anxiety is the product of ignorance about the decision-making process used by the Social Security Administration. Once the ignorance is dispelled, the fear also dissipates.
Many disabled adults in Georgia receive financial assistance under the Social Security Disability Insurance benefits program. Many Georgians wonder whether similar benefits are available for children who are disabled from birth or at a very young age. The technical answer is "no" because SSDI benefits are not paid to children. Nevertheless, children can receive benefits under the Supplemental Security Income program which, for all practical purposes, is the same as SSDI benefits.
The state of Georgia and the federal government have adopted numerous programs to help children with special education needs. These programs can be very complex; both parents and administrators are often left wondering about the correct solution. Occasionally, these differences lead to genuine good faith disputes between parents and administrators. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has established a dispute resolution process that is intended to protect the rights of the child and ensure that the law is followed.
Parents with special needs children are often overwhelmed with the myriad of laws and regulations that apply to the various medical and housing benefits available. One of the risks of wading into this morass without legal advice is the chance of overlooking an aid program that may provide the kind of care that the child needs.