Michael asks: I have been told that in order to qualify for certain government benefits my son can only have $2,000 in his name. That does not seem like very much money for a person to be able to save for lifetime needs. At this point, I am not convinced that we should even plan to have government benefits due to the fact it requires my son to be held in a prison of poverty for his entire life.
Thank you for your question. You have a very valid concern, and you are correct in the fact that your son can only have $2,000 in his name (directly) in order to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. When I speak to parents it is common for them to think that the available government benefits provide a small level of monthly income (SSI) and healthcare (Medicaid). These parents are absolutely correct, but another important consideration is the underlying services that Medicaid can offer an individual with autism.
Medicaid, not only provides healthcare and long term care support, but it also provides for other services that can help your son live an independent life. Medicaid can help provide additional funding for housing, supportive employment, home and community based supports, job training, transportation services and more.
It is critical for you to understand the level of support your son may need in the future, determine the cost of that support over your son’s lifetime, and then decide if you can personally fund the cost of that support or if making the government a “partner” in providing a portion of that support will be necessary. If you decide to make the government a “partner” in providing support for your son, then there is specific planning you can do to provide more than $2,000 of assets for his use and still qualify for government benefits.
For more information on how to prepare for the future, be sure to contact a financial advisor who specializes in serving families with special needs. A Special Needs Plan is driven by what they call Unleash L.I.F.E.™- L.I.F.E. meaning Lasting Independence For Everyone™. This is accomplished with education, action, and support in the creation, implementation, and continued monitoring of a specifically designed lifelong and integrated plan for your family: parents, caregivers, your loved one with special needs and their siblings.
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This article was featured in Issue 40 – Conquering Stress