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.
Many people in Georgia are unable to care for themselves. Some have been disabled since their youth, others have been disabled by an accident or disease and still others are incapacitated by infirmities of old age, such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Despite a person's incapacity, that person may have legal or financial obligations. Managing these relationships can place a heavy burden on family members or friends, and Georgia has created two types of relationships that allow another person to care for or make decisions for a person who is unable to do so: guardianships and conservatorships.
Trusts are common legal arrangements that, in their simplest forms, allow money or property to be set aside for the welfare of a person. While trusts are most commonly associated with wealthy people transferring assets to their children, trusts can serve a variety of purposes that have little or nothing to do with transferring inherited wealth. One of the most useful trusts for people living in Georgia is the "special needs trust."
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a federal statute that was passed in 1975 with the goal of ensuring that certain categories of impaired children were given necessary assistance with learning disabilities. While the goal of the act is laudable, the procedures that are necessary to qualify a child for benefits can be complex.
Elderly Georgia residents hear many confusing terms about planning for a disabling or terminal illness and the disposition of their property on death. One of the most confusing questions is the difference between a living will and a last will and testament. Understanding this distinction can be the difference between removing a significant source of stress from a person's later years and facing increasingly difficult questions about disposing of a person's assets in a manner that precludes divisive arguments between descendants about the division of an elder relative's assets.