As children with special needs become adults, they often rely on various public benefits to assist them with medical care, financial support, and other forms of care. These public benefits programs may include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. However, an individual’s eligibility for SSI, Medicaid, and similar public benefits depends on specific household income and resource limits. A special needs lawyer at Rubin Law can help you determine the steps necessary to ensure that your adult child is eligible for these benefits and remains eligible for these critically important benefit programs in the future.
Means-Tested Government Benefit Programs
While not every adult with special needs qualifies for every government benefits program, some programs commonly provide support for these individuals. For example, many adults with special needs receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits or a monthly stipend for eligible individuals with disabilities. Likewise, the state Medicaid program provides medical insurance coverage for adults with disabilities and certain waiver services that can help qualified individuals remain living in their communities.
These government benefits programs offer essential services and financial support for adults with special needs and are means-tested. In other words, benefit recipients must meet certain income and resource or asset limits, or they will no longer be eligible for those benefits. Therefore, while parents of adult children with special needs often want to contribute to the financial support of their children in one way or another, they must be extraordinarily careful not to take any actions that would jeopardize their children’s benefits.
Resource Limits for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), individuals can qualify for SSI benefits only if they have assets or resources of less than $2,000 as of 2023. Resources include anything of value, including cash, bank accounts, stocks, real estate, and vehicles. However, some assets do not count as resources, including the following:
- The house that the individual lives in;
- One vehicle of any value that is used for the individual’s transportation;
- The individual’s household goods; and
- The individual’s personal belongings.
Resource Limits for Medicaid / Aid to Aged, Blind, and Disabled
The asset or resource limit for a single individual receiving regular Medicaid benefits and/or a Medicaid waiver or Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) is $17,500 as of 2023. Countable assets include cash, stocks, bonds, investments, IRAs (with some exceptions), bank accounts, and real estate where the individual does not live. Some assets are subject to exceptions and, therefore, are non-countable, including personal belongings, household furnishings, one vehicle, and an irrevocable burial trust of up to $15,000. Generally, one’s primary home is also exempt from the asset limit so long as the individual lives there (or intends to return there) and the equity in the home is less than $688,000 for 2023.
Avoid Jeopardizing Your Child’s Eligibility for Government Benefits
In many cases, parents want to continue to provide financial assistance and support to their children with disabilities, even after they become adults. However, they must be cautious about providing financial support to their adult children, or they could jeopardize their children’s eligibility for means-tested government benefits by pushing them over the asset or resource limits.
Fortunately, there are various strategies that parents can use to provide important financial support to their children while still maintaining their eligibility for public benefits. For instance, special needs trusts can hold inheritances that parents wish to leave for the care of their adult children with special needs. Funds placed in ABLE accounts created under the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act generally do not affect eligibility for means-tested government benefits unless the balances in those accounts exceed certain limits.
Call Rubin Law Today to See How We Can Help
Rubin Law is the only Illinois law firm to dedicate itself exclusively to providing compassionate legal services for children and adults with special needs. We can help you understand resource limits and protecting your child’s eligibility for benefits. We offer unique legal and future planning techniques to meet your family’s individual needs.
Call us today at 866-TO-RUBIN or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the services we can offer you and your family.