Call to Action! Ask Federal Legislators to Co-Sponsor Bills Benefiting People with Disabilities

The Special Needs Alliance and other prominent advocacy groups have long supported two pieces of legislation that would greatly benefit individuals with disabilities. Now we’re asking you to help sign up additional co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (H.R. 2123/S.1672)

This bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Thompson (R-PA) and Pallone (D-NJ) and introduced in the Senate by Senators Nelson (D-FL), Grassley (R-IA), Rockefeller (D-WV) and Enzi (R-WY).

Current law does not permit a mentally competent person with special needs to create his or her own special needs trust (SNT), a legal vehicle enabling assets to be held on behalf of someone with disabilities without affecting their eligibility for means-tested public benefits such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income. At present such trusts must be created by the person’s parents, grandparents, a guardian or the Court. This restriction fails to recognize that persons with disabilities should have the same rights as citizens without disabilities where possible.

The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act would correct this problem, reducing attorney fees for clients with disabilities and leaving more money in their hands to cover the cost of care.

Other groups supporting this legislation include the American Association of People with Disabilities, Easter Seals, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

Disabled Military Child Protection Act of 2013 (H.R. 2249 and S. 1076)

This legislation was introduced by Representative Moran (D-VA) and Senators Hagan (D-NC) and Gillibrand (D-NY). It would allow military families to assign Survivor Benefit Plan benefits to an SNT for a child with disabilities. Currently, military retirees must leave their Survivor Benefit Plan benefits directly to the child with disabilities, endangering eligibility for important government benefits. The proposed legislation will allow military retirees, upon their death, to leave their Survivor Benefit Plan benefits to an SNT, enabling military families to better plan for the expensive and complicated long-term care needs of their children with disabilities.

Other organizations supporting this legislation include the American Association on Health and Disability, American Music Therapy Association, American Network of Community Options and Resources and Association of University Centers on Disabilities.

The following links may be helpful in identifying your legislators: www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.

On most individual legislators’ websites, you click on “contact,” then fill out a form in order to communicate your views. Please help to increase congressional support for these important bills.