An Introduction to Financial Assistance and Special Needs Planning

The search for information and direction about financial assistance (benefits and support provided by government agencies) and special needs planning (preparation for future financial needs) can be especially frustrating for caregivers. Providing information and resources to help plan for quality of life during a lifetime of care is the primary focus of a special needs financial planner.

In many states, including New Jersey, Medicaid is the primary source of services for dependents with special needs. While there are multiple ways to remain Medicaid-eligible, most often it is necessary for the individual with special needs to have less than $2,000 of assets in their name. The now widely available ABLE accounts (Achieving a Better Life Experience) allow the individual to have an account where they can deposit $16,000 per year and accumulate up to $100,000 without jeopardizing government support benefits. However, they do have a few drawbacks and typically cannot be the main source of long-term support planning. Most importantly, if a person with an ABLE account passes away with monies left in the account, Medicaid gets reimbursed for the cost of their services from the account balance remaining.