'Have A Special Needs Dependent? Consider These Programs and Services'


Incapacitated Dependent Program;

If your special needs dependent was incapable of self support because of a mental or physical incapacity that existed before the 21st birthday, or 23rd birthday if enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited institution of higher learning, remains unmarried and incapable of self support, and you as the military sponsor continue to provide at least 50% of his/her financial support then the special needs dependent may qualify for this program. Active Duty personnel contact your commands personnel office for eligibility determination and Retirees contact NPC (www.npc.navy.mil/CommandSupport/PayPersSupport/IDCards/Benefits.htm, Ph. 1-866-827-5672). If eligible, this enrollment ensures continued DEERS eligibility for a uniformed services identification card and Tricare coverage. Otherwise, ALL military dependent benefits, including Tricare, expire at age 21.


Special Needs Trust (SNT);

If you have a ‘Special Needs’ dependent, then hopefully you have established a SNT, via a reputable attorney, as authorized under section 1917 (d) (4) (A) of the Social Security Administration Act (www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/spotlights/spot-trusts.htm , Ph. 1-800-772-1213). A properly drafted SNT is designed to hold assets in trust for a disabled dependent and simultaneously protect that dependent’s eligibility for public assistance programs such as SSI and Medicaid. After parent/s or guardian/s has established the SNT, money should never be designated directly to the special needs dependent; only to the SNT. Review all life insurance policies, 401ks, IRAs, savings/checking, money market accounts, annuities, etc. which may list the special needs dependent/s as a beneficiary. Submit changes to name the SNT as the beneficiary. Notify all friends and relatives with the potential of listing the special needs dependent/s as a beneficiary to name the SNT as the beneficiary; not the special needs dependent/s.


Medicaid Home & Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver;

Contact your respective Medicaid office and apply for funding via a Medicaid HCBS Waiver if special needs dependent/s meets eligibility requirements ( The HCBS Waiver program will provide services in the home and community for persons who would otherwise require institutional care. Application may be made as early as three years of age, with qualifying diagnosis. Most states have a waiting list for approved applicants. 


The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) (As It Applies To A Special Needs Dependent);

Upon retirement from military service, sponsors with a special needs dependent should thoroughly review all options under the SBP before declining coverage. As a minimum, be aware of, and give consideration to the ‘Children Only’ SBP option (SBP annuity payable to child at 55% of the base amount). Under this option one category of qualifying child beneficiary is one incapable of self-support because of physical or mental incapacity which existed before the 18th birthday, or was incurred before age 22 while pursuing a full-time course of study. The SBP annuity would be paid for as long as the incapacitation exists, regardless of age (http://www.dfas.mil/rapay/annuities/sbp/SBPGuideBook.pdf   & http://comptroller.defense.gov/fmr/07b/07b_44.pdf, volume 7B, chapter 44, paragraph 440202, A., 2. page 44-4). The monthly premium is determined by DFAS (www.dfas.mil, Ph. 1-800-321-1080).


Note: The SBP does not allow for a SNT to be listed as the beneficiary upon the sponsor’s death {ensure that you have established a SNT, via a reputable attorney, for your special needs dependent}. The sponsor must designate the special needs dependent as the beneficiary. The United States Code states that eligible beneficiaries under the SBP are the spouse and/or dependent children, a former spouse, or a natural person with an insurable interest, providing they meet certain eligibility requirements ( http://www.dfas.mil/rapay/annuities/sbp/SBPGuideBook.pdf & http://comptroller.defense.gov/fmr/07b/07b_44.pdf,  volume 7B, chapter 44, paragraph 4401, page 44-3). There are currently two pending bills addressing this specific beneficiary issue; HR-2059 and HR-3324 to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the payment of monthly annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan to a supplemental or special needs trust established for the sole benefit of a disabled dependent child of a participant in the Survivor Benefit Plan (view content at www.thomas.gov ).  Contact your Congressmen/women and Senators requesting their support for these bills until signed into law.