Planning for Life

SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits for Disabled Young Adults Living at Home

Posted by Elizabeth Stepakoff on November 15, 2016

By Karen B. Mariscal

Massachusetts funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to assist low income households with affording food. While an individual can qualify for SNAP benefits upon reaching the majority age of 18, there are certain nuances that disabled young adults living at home with their parents should be aware of before applying for this program.

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Topics: special needs planning

Adult Foster Care: Valuable Help for the Parents of Disabled Children

Posted by Elizabeth Stepakoff on November 8, 2016

Adult Foster Care (a/k/a Adult Family Care), or AFC, is a MassHealth program that can help you with the caregiving of your disabled loved one. It is available to anyone age 16 or over who is on MassHealth or CommonHealth.

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Topics: special needs planning

Protecting the Rights of Massachusetts Voters with Disabilities

Posted by Elizabeth Stepakoff on November 1, 2016

About 35 million eligible voters in the U.S. have a disability – close to one in six. Although voting is one of the most fundamental rights granted to American citizens, nearly a third of voters with disabilities reported facing obstacles to voting in the 2012 election, including difficulties with physical access to the polling place, reading the ballot or operating the voting machine.

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Topics: special needs planning

Housing: Is My Intellectually Disabled Child Likely to be Entitled to a State-Funded Group Home?

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on October 22, 2016

When planning for the future, one of the questions that parents of intellectually disabled children will need to consider is where the child is likely to live as an adult, and who will pay for it. If the child will need life-long support and will not able to live on his or her own, some governmental assistance may be provided, but how much?

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Topics: special needs planning

What's a Trust and Why are There So Many Different Kinds?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 18, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

A trust is a legal entity that permits one or more people -- the "trustee" or "trustees" -- to manage property for the benefit of other people -- the "beneficiaries." The third actor in a trust is the person who creates it -- the "grantor" or "donor." To confuse things a bit further the same person can be a grantor, trustee and beneficiary, but he can't be the only one in all three roles. And the property in the trust can be just about anything you can own -- real estate, bank accounts, investments, or artwork.

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Topics: special needs planning, Estate Planning

Personal Care Attendants: Valuable Help for Parents of Disabled Children

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on October 17, 2016

MassHealth funds a Personal Care Attendant (a/k/a Personal Care Assistant), or PCA, program in order to help recipients with long-term disabilities manage their own in-home day-to-day personal care. Under this program, a PCA is hired at a rate of $14.12 an hour (in 2016) to physically assist with both activities of daily living, or ADLs (mobility, bathing, dressing, passive range-of-motion exercises, taking medications, eating, and toileting), and instrumental activities of daily living, or IADLs (laundry, meal preparation and clean up, shopping, housekeeping, traveling to medical appointments, and other special needs).

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Topics: special needs planning

Housing Models for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities Who Are Not in State-Supported Housing

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on October 8, 2016

The majority of adult children with significant intellectual disabilities live with their parents or other family members through the child’s 40s, and often 50s. (For purposes of this article, we will refer to the provider as the parent, and the adult with special needs as the child, although this article applies to siblings and other relations as well.) Only about a third of all intellectually disabled citizens in Massachusetts are served by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) receive housing provided by the state. These people -- tending to be the older or more serious cases -- are considered Priority One for housing by DDS. All other DDS clients are either Priority Two on No Priority. Click here for a description of state-supported housing.

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Topics: special needs planning

Funding a Special Needs Trust With Life Insurance

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on September 26, 2016

Leaving your special needs child with enough money to pay for their needs after you are gone can be a daunting task. The costs of providing a home and care exceed the resources of most families. Often a good solution is to fund a special or supplemental needs trust (“SNT”) with life insurance. A parent can take out a life insurance policy on his or her life to ensure that once the parent is gone, monies will be available to care for the special needs child.

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Topics: special needs planning

Laughter is the Best Medicine:  Humor in the Special Needs Parenting Trenches

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on August 23, 2016

There are so many funny things about raising a disabled child. Often the joke is on me. Like how I am always weirdly and inappropriately concerned about whether my child “wins” at a Special Olympics meet. My son, who is severely autistic, doesn’t even know he is in a race. He still occasionally comes in first, and when that happens, I parade him around with his gold medal for days, so that I can bask in the glory. Again, he has no idea what the medal means, and in fact he doesn’t really appreciate the attention, but apparently that is irrelevant.

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Topics: special needs planning

Accessory Apartments: Keeping Our Special Needs Children and Elderly Close

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on August 15, 2016

Along with the graying of America, our society is grappling with a dramatic surge of young adults impacted by autism and other intellectual or developmental disabilities who are aging out of school and into the vastly less supported real world. We need to think creatively about how to provide alternative housing options for them.

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Topics: special needs planning, caregiving

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