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Attorneys Claudia W. Englisby and Kathleen D. Tetreault, the co-founders of Disability Planning Partners, Inc., hope to dispel a common myth that private resources need to be exhausted prior to receiving governmental assistance (public benefits) to help defray the care costs. Remember, by definition, disability refers to an individual who is unable to maintain gainful employment as a result of a physical or mental impairment. This means that individuals with disabilities need to retain as many private resources as possible.

Although many public benefit programs have financial eligibility limits (low income and low assets), individuals with disabilities can use a special needs trust to meet these low limits without “spending down.” The “public benefits” are not welfare, but rather government-based programs and funding aimed to defray the costs for receiving care. Therefore, access to benefits is found through the retention and re-structuring of private assets in order to meet eligibility requirements, rather than the need to spend down assets to be eligible.

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