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Special Needs Future Planning for Benefits, Legal & Financial Issues

People with disabilities and their families need to understand government benefits that may be available and how those benefits are impacted by other financial circumstances, such as work. They must also prepare for the future of their loved one with a disability by planning for and protecting their care and assets. Benefits Planning Specialists, Community Work Incentive Coordinators, Financial Planners, and Attorneys who concentrate in Wills, Special Needs Trusts, and Guardianship are all professionals who provide information and assistance with these important issues. Although they differ greatly in their services, they all deal with the broad issue of financial resources. They also provide information and services designed to maximize the effectiveness of those available resources. It is important in this area of services for the consumer to understand the scope of services and be aware of the providers expertise.

The Arc of the United States has a new initiative and resources focused on Futures Planning, available at the Center for Future Planning®

ABLE National Resource Center

In December 2014, Congress passed the Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which added Section 529A to the federal tax code. The ABLE Act allows qualified individuals with disabilities to save money in a tax-exempt account that may be used for qualified disability expenses (QDE) while keeping their eligibility for federally-funded, means-tested public benefits.  This website has information on ABLE accounts in several states.

Provides information on ABLE accounts specific to the State of Illinois

Work Incentive Planning and Assistance – WIPA 
Community Work Incentive Coordinators help consumers understand government benefits such as SSI and SSDI and how these benefits are impacted by other financial circumstances such as work. The Work Incentive Planning and Assistance Program provides information free of charge to people receiving SSI or SSDI who want to work. Other Benefits Planning Specialists may provide these and other services for a fee.

Financial Planners
Financial Planners help families manage and integrate government benefits and family financial resources. These professionals hold the CFP Certified Financial Planner or ChFC Chartered Financial Consultant credentials.

Attorneys Concentrating in Wills, Trusts, and Guardianship for Individuals with Special Needs
These professionals provide the legal structures necessary to facilitate financial and other futures planning for families that contain a member with a disability. Attorneys may also provide consultation on benefits and other services and supports for people with disabilities.

You will find resources for Legal Assistance including Futures Planning in the Illinois Life Span Statewide Resources, Legal Assistance Resources.

Government Benefit Programs
Government Benefit Programs – Main Page
Special Needs Future Planning for Benefits, Financial & Legal Issues
Advocacy Toolbox – Main Page