Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 7 - Page 34

BY Ed Zetlin & Mark Friese Understanding the Disabled Military Child Protection Act and Special Needs Trusts F or many years military members and retirees who had special needs children were not allowed to select a Special Needs Trust as a beneficiary under their survivor benefit plan (SBP). This was a large problem for special needs children because receipt of their parents’ SBPs could easily disqualify them from SSI and Medicaid eligibility for developmentally disabled benefit programs. Under the Military Child Protection Act, which Congress passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2015, military members and retirees can now elect to have their pension annuity paid to a special needs trust for the benefit of a child satisfying the Social Security’s definition of “disabled.” Recently, the Department of Defense (DOD) released a memorandum on the implementation of the Child Protection Act. A member or retiree who elects SBP coverage for their dependent child may irrevocably decide to substitute a first party special needs trust (SNT) through a written statement that designates future SBP payments to the SNT. The DOD memorandum states that the writing must contain the following: • the trust’s name and tax identification number, and • a statement from a licensed attorney certifying that the trust satisfies the requirements of a First Party or Self-Settled special needs trust pursuant to federal and state law. In lieu of an attorney’s certification, a certification from the Social Security Administration will suffice. In the event a retiree dies prior to making the assignment or a member dies in the line of duty or during inactive duty training, a surviving parent, a grandparent, or a court appointed guardian may make such an election. Among the requirements for a First Party or Self-Settled special needs trust is the payback (The following an edited of Chapter of Barb’s new toIf you isand yourexcerpt spouse were19to divorce book, Neurodiversity: A Humorous and Practical Guide morrow, would you be able to financially to Living with ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Dyslexia, HomocareandforEveryone your autistic child on your own— sexuality Else.) TION LENS LEGISLA provision to Medicaid should any funds remain in the trust upon the death of the beneficiary. By requiring attorney certification, the DOD wants to assure that the member or retiree has designated the right kind of SNT trust to receive the SBP. In the event that the trust fails as a valid SNT, the SBP will revert to the dependent child, impacting the child’s eligibility for public benefits. This will typically mean that a member or retiree with a special needs child may require two special needs trusts. They will require a Third Party Special Needs Trust for their own estate and a First Party Special Needs Trust to receive the SBP. Edward Zetlin has a solo practice in the areas of elder & disability law, guardianship/conservatorship, public benefits, estate planning and estate administration. He serves on the Northern Virginia Autism Association Board and is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Washington College of Law of American University. Mark Friese is the founder of Special Needs Financial Advisors, based in Washington, D.C. With over 100 years of combined experience, they help to navigate the many aspects of planning with special needs family members. perhaps for your child’s lifetime? n I Might Be You: An Exploration of Autism and Connection, I wrote much of the bounty of just being. Here is an excerpt sharing how just being can connect you with another without language: “We are not hiding. You search with limited senses and, therefore our humanity is camouflaged to you. Be still. Be quiet. Be. We notice you on the glacier. We observe you completely. Language presentation is the barrier to our friendship–not sentience or intellect. We do not speak your language, but you can speak ours. Be still. Be quiet. Be. And now be with us. Our silent and invisible language is that easy to learn. Feel it? Welcome. Our friendship has begun.” CONNER’S LAW I have always been good at just being. I know now that to fully “be,” one must also “do.” This truth comes with the added bonus that doing can be a real calorie burner. But wait, there is more. Those who are good at just being are fully present and see justly that change is often needed to be just. (That may read more clearly when held up to a mirror.) Change is always a chain reaction. Google tells us a chain reaction is “a chemical reaction or other process in which the products themselves promote or spread the reaction, which under certain conditions may accelerate dramatically.” If you seek change, make your move. Humanity needs exactly you. WE NEED YOUR HELP! SB923forConner’s passedmonk in VA. Join our Consider, example,Law Buddhist Quang Duc’s self-immolation on a Saigonwhile street we in advocacy movement June 1963 that led to the November 1963 overgo state by state, changing laws as needed... throw of the Diem regime in South Vietnam, a government that infamously persecuted Buddhists, thus ending the “Buddhist crisis.” Fellow monk and prolific author Thich Nhat Hanh, in a conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King, explained that this was not an act of suicide. He immolated himself out of love and wanting equality justice, not Autism out of through despairMany or self-pity. ZOOM Lenses 35 It was hard to be heard in Vietnam at that time, Because a disability doesn’t stop on a child’s 18th birthday. Conquer for Conner 34 ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses