New Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Website

In the first re-design of the ADA website since 2002, the Department of Justice launched a redesigned ADA website, The new design incorporates improved navigation and usability features making it easier to find information on ADA technical assistance, enforcement, and regulations.   Additional features include information for returning service members with disabilities, service animals, and a sign up for an email list to receive the latest updates.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.

Social Security Administration Revises Rules: Permits First-Party Trusts to Pay for Non-Beneficiary Travel in Some Cases

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has revised its Program Operations Manual System (POMS) to allow first-party trusts to pay for travel expenses incurred by non-beneficiaries in limited cases. In addition, the revised POMS clarifies the rule that payment of some administrative expenses upon early termination of the trust or otherwise, including trustee fees, will not violate the sole benefit rule.

A controversy surrounding trusts and travel expenses began last spring, when the SSA added two examples to POMS Section 1120.201. The new wording stated that trusts that permit a trustee to reimburse a beneficiary’s family for expenses incurred in visiting the beneficiary would violate the “sole benefit rule” and would therefore not qualify as exempt resources.

The SSA removed the offending examples after attorneys and other advocates objected, but the agency warned that it would revisit the issue. The latest revisions, announced in a Policy Transmittal and effective May 15, 2013, represent a compromise position.

According to the updated POMS Section 1120.201.F.2, the general rule is that a trust is established for the sole benefit of an individual “if the trust benefits no one but that individual, whether at the time the trust is established or at any time for the remainder of the individual’s life.” However, the revised POMS establishes two exceptions, one for third-party payments and one for administrative expenses.

The new rule states that payments do not violate the sole benefit rule if they are to third parties for goods or services received by the beneficiary, payments of third-party travel expenses “which are necessary in order for the trust beneficiary to obtain medical treatment,” or payments that allow a third party to “visit a trust beneficiary who resides in an institution, nursing home, or other long-term care facility (e.g., group homes and assisted living facilities) or other supported living arrangement in which a non-family member or entity is being paid to provide or oversee the individuals living arrangement.” However, [t]he travel must be for the purpose of ensuring the safety and/or medical well-being of the individual.”

The new POMS section also provides a 90-day safe harbor period for revision of a trust that was previously judged to be an exempt resource but has run afoul of the new travel provisions. The 90-day period does not start running until the beneficiary or his representative payee is informed that the trust violates the new rules.

Revised POMS Section 1120.201.F.2.c, which is incorporated into several additional sections, including 1120.199 (the early termination rules) and 1120.203, makes it clear that payments for “reasonable compensation for a trustee(s) to manage the trust, as well as reasonable costs associated with investment, legal or other services rendered on behalf of the individual with regard to the trust” do not violate the sole benefit rule.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.

Federal Web Site Links to Programs and Services for People With Disabilities

There are so many programs and services available for people with disabilities that it can make your head spin. Fortunately, the federal government has created a Web site that collects information about a wide variety of state and federal resources in one place.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s site is a one-stop source of government information relevant to people with disabilities, their families, employers, and service providers. Visitors choose from a number of broad categories — including housing, health, transportation, and employment — and receive a list of links to state and federal resources.

In addition to assembling all of the links in one place, also allows users to sort the tremendous amount of data in a variety of helpful ways. For instance, visitors can narrow their searches by target audience or by curated sub-topics. The Web site also recommends sites or organizations that do a particularly good job. On top of all of these resources, contains an up-to-date news feed describing various events and stories of interest to people with disabilities and their families.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.

National Elder Law Month

As proud and dedicated members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), we are helping to recognize and celebrate May as National Elder Law Month.  Along with hundreds of elder law attorneys across the country, our entire firm focuses our practice on the issues of older individuals and individuals with special needs in order to help them deal with their special concerns.  We also dedicate substantial time to educating seniors, individuals with special needs, and their families in the greater Silicon Valley about the legal matters they care most about and the importance of planning for their future health and legal needs.

As part of National Elder Law Month, during May our firm will be holding the following workshops and seminars at the firm’s offices and around the community:

  • Secrets of Long-term Care Planning:   May 7th & May 14th, at the firm’s law offices
  • Spring Client Seminars on The EASE Program (Emergency Advocacy Support & Education):  May 8th & 16th, at the firm’s law offices
  • Issues of Elder Law, presented as part of the “Should I Stay or Should I Go” series:  May 7th, at the Los Gatos Recreation Center
  • Secrets of Planning for Long-Term Health Care for Seniors:  May 21st, at the Palo alto Financial Planning Forum, The Sheraton Palo Alto
  • Planning for the Second Half of Life:  May 22nd, at the SVBA Luncheon Meeting, Santa Clara Superior Court

Check out our firm’s website  to learn more about us and how dedicated we are to representing and advocating for older and disabled individuals and their families in our community.

To learn more about National Elder Law Month, visit the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) website.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.