AZ Central recently reported on a study about parents of children with Down syndrome that came out of Kansas State University and Texas Tech University. The study found that most parents of these children go through a similar cycle. It is common for parents to feel overwhelmed with grief upon learning that their child has Down syndrome, but these feelings generally give way to feelings of joy once they actually begin bonding with their child. Parents of children with Down syndrome are not unlike other parents, in that they want the best for their child, and will do whatever is in their power to provide him or her with the best life possible.
Although a special needs child has unique needs, parents of a child with special needs make the same basic considerations as other parents. They want to find the right doctors and specialists; they want to find the best schools; and they want to make sure they have the resources to provide the child with the things he or she needs to live a full and gratifying life. One difference, however, is that children with special needs are generally eligible for public benefits to help pay for certain services. For instance, special needs children ordinarily receive SSI benefits each month to provide them with income that they would otherwise be unable to earn.
The one catch with SSI is that it is needs based, meaning that only those with limited income and assets are eligible to receive the benefit. Because children with Down syndrome are typically low-income earners, they do not have many barriers preventing them from SSI eligibility. But, if and when a parent leaves a special needs child an inheritance, the gift could cause the child to exceed SSI’s resource limit, and thus lose his or her SSI eligibility. While this seems to present parents of special needs children with a conundrum, the way around this dilemma is by creating a special needs trust.
Special needs trust funds are not counted for SSI eligibility purposes, so when parents leave an inheritance in the form of a special needs trust it should not affect the child’s public benefits. As such, a special needs trust provides parents of a special needs trust a means to leave their child with an inheritance without causing any negative repercussions. Parents of a special needs child should not procrastinate establishing a special needs trust, as they never know what unexpected turn their life may take. Speaking with a special needs trust attorney is a good idea for every parent of a special needs child, as doing so may give them peace of mind that their child will be provided for no matter what happens.