Government Benefits

Government Programs for Children With Special Needs

For parents of a child with special needs, the support and resources needed can feel overwhelming. The Special Needs Alliance is a national alliance of attorneys for special needs planning.While some resources vary by state, there are government programs that can help alleviate some of the most urgent issues. The following provides an overview of the most popular offerings.

SNA Public Policy: Advocating for Adult Children

The Voice® is prepared and distributed by the Special Needs Alliance (SNA). This installment was written by a consortium of members of the SNA’s Public Policy Committee. The Public Policy Committee through our public policy consultant, Brian Lindberg, work with members of Congress and congressional staff to educate and advocate on issues of importance to individuals with disabilities and their families. The Public Policy Committee will author periodic issues of the The Voice® to introduce our readers to the Public Policy efforts the SNA is directly involved in.


The Voice is the e-mail newsletter of the Special Needs Alliance. This installment was written by Special Needs Alliance member Edward Wilcenski, Esq., a founding partner of the law firm of Wilcenski & Pleat, PLLC in Clifton Park, New York. He practices in the areas of Special Needs Planning, Elder Law, and Trust and Estate Planning and Administration. Ed is a past President of the Special Needs Alliance, and writes and lectures frequently on issues affecting individuals with disabilities and their families

Long-time readers of The Voice know that we rarely repeat an issue. In the world of disability there are many important topics to choose from, so the challenge has really been in deciding which topics are of most interest to our readers rather than finding something interesting in the first place. Because the Voice has many new readers each year, we know that many of our current readers may have missed this article when it first appeared in November of 2010. With this in mind, we’ve decided to reprint this article written by Edward V. Wilcenski, Esq. hoping that it may catch newer readers before they make their final decisions on how to make holiday gifts to their family members and friends with disabilities.

2024-05-07T14:08:42-04:00Tags: |

Special Needs Beneficiaries Can Be Explicitly Included in Estate Planning

This article for The Voice® was written by Mark B. Heffner, CELA, a graduate of Harvard College and Boston College Law School. He is the principal of Heffner & Associates, a firm with offices in Warwick and Barrington, Rhode Island, focusing since 1992 on elder law, special needs planning, and estate planning. Mark is a Certified Elder Law Attorney, and became a member of the Special Needs Alliance in 2004. He can be found at

What, Where, Why, and When must a Special Needs Trust Be Reported to Government Agencies?

This article for The Voice® was written by Emily B. Kile, Esq. of Scottsdale, Arizona. Emily is a partner at Kile & Kupiszewski Law Firm, LLC. Emily has been practicing law since 1993.  She is a member of the Special Needs Alliance. Her practice areas include special needs planning, probate, trust administration, long term care planning and guardianship/conservatorship matters.  Emily is also a licensed fiduciary. She serves as Trustee, Conservator and Financial Agent for individuals. Emily is a past chairperson for the Elder Law, Mental Health & Special Needs Planning section of the State Bar of Arizona. Please visit her at:

Be Alert to Covid-19 Scams

Rebecca S. Kueny, Kueny Law LLC, Salem, Oregon, focuses her practice on elder law, special needs planning and trust administration. She is committed to helping individuals with special needs live as independently as possible.


Customizable Visa Card Aids Financial Independence

This installment of The Voice was written by Special Needs Alliance member Stephen W. Dale, Esq., founder of The Dale Law Firm, PC, in Pacheco, California. His practice focuses on estate planning, and he is an ardent advocate for disability rights. He is a frequent national speaker on a wide range of disability topics, and has received both the Powley Award and Theresa Foundation Award in recognition of his work on behalf of individuals with special needs. He is a board member with the Arc of California, a trustee with the Golden State Pooled Trust, and legal counsel for True Link Financial.

2024-05-07T14:02:27-04:00Tags: |

Special Needs Trusts Do More than Protect Benefits

Bruce D. Reinoso, Esq., is Senior Counsel in the Family Wealth and Estate Planning Department of Woods Oviatt, Gilman, LLP, of Buffalo and Rochester, New York. He concentrates his practice in the areas of trusts, estates, estate planning and elder law. Too often, families planning to create a third party special needs trust (SNT) think [...]


In-Kind Support and Maintenance – A Trap for the Unwary

This edition of the Voice is written by Leonard Anderson, Esq. Leonard is a Partner at Barlow Anderson, LLC in Anchorage, Alaska, where he has been practicing in the elder law field for more than 25 years. He is a member the Special Needs Alliance and his practice areas include probate, estate planning, guardianships, special needs planning, and trusts. He is a past president of the Anchorage Bar Association and is a member of the Probate Rules Committee for State of Alaska.

2024-05-07T13:58:56-04:00Tags: |

How long do you have to work for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits if you are 30 and younger?

This installment of the Voice was written by Martha C. Brown, CELA, a Special Needs Alliance Member who has been practicing in the field of elder law and special needs for over 30 years and is a Certified Elder Law Attorney as certified by the National Elder Law Foundation. Her firm, Martha C. Brown & Associates, LLC, concentrates on the unique legal needs of the elderly, people with disabilities and the families who care for them.


Is Self-Employment Right for You?

This post was co-authored by John S. Kitchen, Esq., and Janet Lowder, CELA. John has law offices in Auburn and Laconia, New Hampshire. His practice areas include special needs trusts (SNTs), powers of attorney, wills and revocable trusts for individuals who have a family member or friend with disabilities. Janet’s firm is headquartered in Cleveland, with several other offices throughout the state. She focuses on estate planning for the elderly and for individuals with special needs and is recognized for her knowledge of Medicaid.

2024-05-21T16:30:46-04:00Tags: |

Preserving SSI When Divorcing Parents Have a Child with Disabilities

Divorce is often a particularly stressful time for families. When divorcing parents have a child with disabilities, sorting through the financial issues can get complicated. Extra care should be taken to ensure that there are no unintended financial consequences and that the family is making the best use of available resources. Maintaining or applying for [...]

2024-05-07T13:53:55-04:00Tags: |

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 [...]


How In-Kind Support and Maintenance (ISM) Affects Benefits

By Martha C. Brown, CELA Special needs trusts (SNTs) are established to supplement the benefits that individuals with disabilities receive from government programs, such as Medicaid and SSI (Supplemental Security Income). They protect funds intended to enhance quality of life without rendering the beneficiary ineligible for means-tested benefits. Since SSI is meant to cover food [...]