New York Special Needs FAQs

Amoruso & Amoruso, LLP • Serving New York, White Plains and the Westchester County Area


Who is a "Special Needs Person"?

The term "Special Needs Person" refers to an adult or a child with mental, physical, emotional and/or medical disabilities.

How do I provide the best care options for my Special Needs Child?

A & A can guide you through the maze of government benefit programs available to help families provide for a Special Needs Child such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid to help you establish either a Special Needs Trust or a Supplemental Needs Trust. SSI is an entirely financial need based program that guarantees a disabled person a minimum monthly income to cover basic living expenses. Medicaid is a government program that will pay for many of an eligible disabled person's health care expenses. We will guide you through the complexities of these government benefits, working with you to create a plan that protects your Special Needs Child and gives you peace of mind.

Is there a difference between a Special Needs Trust and a Supplemental Needs Trust?

YES! Though sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, generally, a Special Needs Trust is set up for a disabled person under the age of 65 using his or her own assets and a Supplemental Needs Trust is set up for a disabled person under age 65 by a third party using their assets (and NOT the disabled person's assets). The most important difference between the two types of trusts is the fact that a Special Needs Trust must contain a "pay back" provision that makes the state the primary beneficiary of the trust at the Special Needs Person's death or upon early termination of the trust to the extent of Medicaid benefits paid by the state for the Special Needs Person. In contrast, a Supplemental Needs Trust does not contain a "pay back" provision and, upon the Special Needs Person's death, the remainder of the trust can be payable to beneficiaries chosen by the third party that created the trust. Our Firm is well-versed with all aspects of these trusts and will explain the most effective uses of these trusts for your particular circumstances.

Why not give a Special Needs Person money outright?

Gifts of money outright can cause a Special Needs Person to lose their vital government benefits. Loss or reduction of those benefits can be catastrophic for a Special Needs Person. By setting up and funding a Supplemental Needs Trust for a Special Needs Person, anyone can have trust assets applied for the benefit of the Special Needs Person without disqualifying them from receiving benefits under government programs.

Who will care for my Special Needs Child when I am gone?

A & A will create a comprehensive Estate Plan that will address guardianship issues for your child and involve the appropriate type of Trust to provide funds to care for your Special Needs Child for his or her lifetime without jeopardizing government benefit eligibility. Contact us today to begin considering your options.

How can I obtain special education for my Special Needs Child?

Amoruso & Amoruso, LLP has the experience to support and guide you as to the best way to advocate for the proper education for your child. Often times, the needs of a child are not adequately addressed by the local school system and require legal intervention to ensure that your child receives the best educational plan available. Contact Amoruso & Amoruso, LLP to discuss your child's educational options.

How do I name a guardian for my Special Needs Child?

When your child attains the age of 18, he or she becomes an adult. However, some Special Needs children still need a court appointed guardian to manage their affairs. Amoruso & Amoruso, LLP has the experience to advocate in court for the appointment of a guardian and standby guardian for your Special Needs Child.

What information should I bring to my appointment?

When you set up an appointment with our staff, they will email you our detailed data sheet for you to complete. This data sheet will provide us with important information that we need to assist you. Please fill out our detailed data sheet send it in prior to your appointment so that our attorneys can be prepared to meet with you. For the appointment, please bring your most current available bank and/or brokerage account statements, property deeds, long term care insurance policy and any existing Last Will and Testament, Trust, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy or Living Will.