By John Kitchen, Esq.
One of the many things to think about following a diagnosis is financial planning. What disability-related expenses will you face? Will you need to take unexpected time off from work? Will you need to make your home accessible or incur medically-related travel expenses? What won’t be covered by health insurance? How will you cover these expenses?
It’s never too soon to think about financial planning for your child and family. For children with disabilities, regular savings accounts, 529 college savings plans, a fundraiser, or a Go Fund Me or other crowd funding site can impact eligibility for needs-based public disability-related benefits.
Public benefits, like Medicaid, may have financial eligibility requirements. This means that raising money in your child’s name could result in them losing their services. However, with some thoughtful planning and the use of ABLE accounts and Special Needs Trusts, unintentional outcomes can be avoided.
What is an ABLE account? It’s like a 529 college savings plan account (and can be used for education) but it also includes other disability related purchases. For more information about ABLE, check out www.stablenh.com, New Hampshire’s ABLE account program.
What is a Special Needs Trust? It’s a trust that is allowed for people with disabilities receiving Medicaid and other public benefits. It can be a savings account and can also make purchases. For more information, check out www.elonh.org, a non-profit pooled trust program in New Hampshire.
So, before you open that savings account, organize a charity event, or launch a Go Fund Me page for your child, make sure you have the proper financial planning tools in place.
John Kitchen is an estate planning attorney with Devine Millimet and former member of the DRC-NH Board of Directors. This post first appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of the Disability RAPP: Big Dreams for Little Ones – Birth to 3