Haddad Nadworny

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Exciting News! Introducing Affinia Financial Group

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Sat, Oct 05, 2019 @ 06:00 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP,  CTFAVisit our NEW Interactive Workshops Calendar

We are honored to share the exciting news that we have founded our own investment advisory firm, Affinia Financial Group in Burlington, MA.  Special Needs Financial Planning is now a specialty practice of Affinia Financial Group.

Affinia WelcomeAffinia is a legacy firm offering a full range of financial services and is a reflection of our commitment to be there for our clients and their families into the next generation. We chose the name Affinia as a tribute to the affinity we have for our clients, their families and for our team of professionals.

Our advocacy efforts will be uninterrupted; please see our workshops page to attend or schedule a presentation for your group. We will continue to publish innovative, helpful information, as well as techniques and tools for planning for individuals with disabilities on our blog and in the media.

Welcome to Affinia!

John, Cindy, Alex, Jackie, Ben & Patty

Our new contact information: 

Affinia Financial Group

80 Blanchard Road, Suite 201

Burlington, MA 01803

T. 781-365-8586

Logo Side By Side Final - RGB

 

 

 

 

Caring for the CareGiver: Advanced Directives

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Wed, Aug 21, 2019 @ 07:39 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP,  CTFA

Visit our NEW Interactive Workshops Calendar

You’ve completed the Letter of Intent (LOI) for your child, but what about planning for your own care? ambulance-architecture-building-263402Two-thirds of all adults have no living will or other health care directive. Regardless of your age, it is always a good idea to let others know your values, wishes and care preferences should an emergency arise and you are unable to communicate.

An Advanced Care Directive is a legal document in which a person specifies which actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves due to illness or incapacity. An advanced care directive may go by several names: Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Medical Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy.

There are many circumstances to consider and your decisions may change over time, but you may find it helpful to get started by breaking advanced care planning down into 3 steps:

  1. Learning about and thinking through the types of decisions you will have to make
  2. Formalizing your decisions in a legal document
  3. Sharing your decisions with all relevant people, including your appointed health care proxy, your family and friends, legal professionals and your healthcare providers

The types of decisions you will have to make

 It is very difficult to think through what your wishes might be given the infinite number of emergency situations which could occur. An important first step is to think about what you value; those things that make life most meaningful for you. Then you can begin to consider the level of medical treatment you would want to receive.

For example: (Source NIH)

  • if a stroke leaves you unable to move, would you want CPR? If you became mentally impaired by the same stroke, would your decision change?
  • If you are in pain at the end of life, would you want pain medication even if it made you drowsy and non- communicative?
  • If you are permanently unconscious and then develop pneumonia- would you want antibiotics and a ventilator?

Regardless of your wishes for aggressive treatment, palliative care, meaning treatment to mitigate pain and keep you comfortable, should always be considered.

In your advanced care directive you can outline the types of medical treatment you would and would not wish to receive. Included should be your thoughts about life support treatment and your goals for all of these treatments including:

  • Use of equipment such as dialysis and ventilators,
  • DNR or Do Not Resuscitate Orders- meaning you do not want CPR administered
  • Fluids via IV and food supplied by tube feeding,
  • Use of major surgery, blood transfusions, antibiotics
  • Use of Pain medication

In addition, you may specify your wishes regarding organ donation in an advanced care directive.

Who should make care decisions for you?

adults-caucasian-commitment-870901-1You should choose a person you know well and whom you feel knows you well. This person should be capable of handling the responsibility that comes with making decisions and advocating on your behalf.

This person, who may be referred to as your medical proxy or health care agent, does not automatically get called in to make decisions unless you are unable or incapable of speaking for yourself. In addition, if you are able to make decisions for yourself in the case of an emergency situation, you are not bound by the contents of your Advanced Care directive- you may decide whatever you wish at that time and you may revoke your advanced care directive at any time.

You should also name a second individual as an alternate health care proxy.

Formalizing Your Decisions in a Legal Document

Some states have specific documents to be completed to achieve your advanced health care directives. Massachusetts does not have a statute governing the use of living wills and there is no “Massachusetts Living Will” document.

You may request an advanced care directive form from your attorney, however there are high quality free/ very inexpensive online resources to formalize your wishes including Caring Info, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and The Five Wishes.

Once you have completed your advanced care directive be sure to sign it under the appropriate circumstances as many states have notice and signature witnessing requirements.

Communicating Your Decisions & Sharing Your Documents

 It is critically important to discuss and share your decisions with the people you have appointed as your health care agent and your health care providers. You should also share this document with them. You may change your advanced care directive at any time and if you do, you should destroy all copies of prior directives and share the new directive with the appropriate people. 

Sources:

National Institute on Aging, Advanced Care Planning: Health Care Directives

American Cancer Society, Types of Advance Directives

American Bar Association, Myths and Facts about Health Care Directives

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Massachusetts Advance Directive

Aging with Dignity, The Five Wishes

The information provided here is for general information only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice.

 

 

 

 

Tags: Aging Caregiver, advanced directives, living will, health care proxy

It's the 4th of July and My Child isn't the Only One Getting Older!

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Tue, Jul 02, 2019 @ 06:00 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP,  CTFA

New call-to-actionIn addition to documenting the details of your child's daily life, The Letter of Intent (LOI) is an appropriate place for you to describe the personal traditions and holiday activities that bring happiness to him or her. The LOI can be a helpful bridge for future caregivers to have insight into how to fulfill their roles.You may download a fillable LOI by clicking here or on the image. 

Sarah and Thomas, Part III

Below, the story of Sarah, and her LOI for her adult son, Thomas, continues.  Since Sarah's "ah-ha!" moment during her injury last winter, she set a goal to work throughout 2019 to complete a very detailed LOI for her son, Thomas.

Allowing herself the time to complete the LOI a bit at a time has been a great gift. It has freed her up to record the  important details of her daily life with Thomas through the lens of both his capabilities and her expectations. It has also led her to expand her thinking about what she does for Thomas to include and focus upon what is meaningful for him, what is comfortable for him, and what is joy for him.

bright-celebrate-celebration-769525

 

The 4th of July

This 4th of July,  will be a great day for my son. I know this because it always is.  He will get up in the AM and put on his Red Sox T-shirt.  While he is no doubt a super-fan, and the Sox always have a game on the 4th,  he wears it today because it's red, white and blue. He will be excited because I will have the day off and he will have friends and family all around and it is the middle of summer - the best time of year to be a New Englander. 

american-flag-flower-july-4th-1093645We always start the day with a neighborhood parade featuring children on their bikes which they have decorated with streamers, a salute to the flag, and coffee and doughnuts on our neighbor’s porch.  Thomas is out of the house by 8AM, as his  job, lining the parade route with miniature flags, needs to happen before any of the festivities begin.  Later, after we help clean up and pick up all the flags and store them in their box in our basement,  we will go to my cousin’s home for a BBQ.  There Thomas will drink too many sodas, eat too many hot dogs and basically have a great time. There will be fireworks, and sparklers for the kids and an infinite number of reasons to be thankful for and celebrate our freedom.  Thomas and I will drive home and go through our nightly routine before collapsing, exhausted by the sweet joy of the day.

Next Steps for Sarah

Sarah has made the LOI into more than a chronicle of Thomas’ daily life; she has created a diary of their life together. While no one will ever fully fill her shoes, the details in this LOI will give them an idea of  Thomas’ favorite things.  It makes sense to keep a diary for others to know these special moments. She is hopeful he will have people in his life to help him continue the traditions he loves.

She will begin by watching Thomas interact with neighbors and family this 4th of July, and mention to them how much joy this holiday tradition brings him. This might be the first step in asking people to be a part of Thomas’ life when she is no longer able to be there for him. She is moving forward.  

(Author's note: While the content in this post may stand alone, you may receive greater context by reading Sarah's story in Parts I and Part II of this series about parents' and caregivers' concerns as they and their children age. )

 

Tags: caregivers for special needs, special needs Letter of Intent, A Team to Carry On, Aging Caregiver

3 Financial Aid Facts for Families of People with Disabilities

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Wed, Jun 12, 2019 @ 06:00 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP,  CTFA

Visit our NEW Interactive Workshops Calendar

Filing FAFSA, filling in a College Scholarship profile or just finding out all you can about student debt forgiveness programs? Here is some information specific to ABLE Accounts, Special Needs Trusts, Social Security Benefits and the student loan process. 

Before we get started, a special shout-out to Mary Rubenis of the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA), sponsors of the Attainable Savings PlanSM  for contributing her insight and key  information. 

A Little Background Info about the ABLE Account & Special Needs Trusts:

The ABLE (or 529A) account is a tax advantaged account for individuals with a disability to pay for qualified disability expenses.  Unlike a typical 529 plan which requires funds be spent on qualified higher education expenses, the funds in an ABLE account may be used to pay for qualified expenses related to living with a disability. Qualified disability expenses may include education, transportation, housing, employment training and support, personal support services, health, basic living and assisted technologies and related support.

As of 2018, it is allowable to rollover up to $15,000/year from a beneficiary’s 529 account into their own or their family member’s ABLE account without penalty.  To read about the basics of the ABLE account, as well as suggested strategies and case studies that use the ABLE, click here

 A Special Needs Trust (SNT), also called a supplemental needs trust, is a vehicle to provide monetary support for a beneficiary without effecting their eligibility for needs-based government benefits, e.g. Social Security Income and Medicaid.  The beneficiary will not have access or control over the money in a SNT.

3 Financial Aid Facts

1. Reporting requirements for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

FAFSAGuidance from the Federal Student Aid Office states that ABLE accounts, along with interest income and distributions, should be excluded as assets on the beneficiary’s FAFSA. ABLE accounts were created to supplement, and not to replace, eligibility for federal means-tested benefit programs. ABLE accounts would also not be reported on a sibling’s FAFSA, as the assets are considered those of the beneficiary, not the parents.

SNTs are treated as any other trust fund for the purposes of FAFSA and need to be reported. Restrictions on distributions from a SNT are imposed by the grantor of the trust and unless specifically excluded, these funds may be dispensed by the trustee to pay for educational expenses for the beneficiary.  The assets in the SNT are not included on the beneficiary’s siblings’ FAFSA.

Social Security benefits that are not subject to taxation do not have to be included on FAFSA. SSI recipient’s income levels are generally below the taxable threshold, so SSI generally does not need to be reported. If you receive SSDI and have substantial income, your benefits may be taxed at the federal level. For example, if you are single and your income is more than $25,000 per year but less than $34,000, you would have to pay taxes on about half the value of your benefits. If you earn more than $34,000 (or married and earn more than $44,000), 85% of your benefits could be taxed.

2. Reporting Requirements for College Scholarship Service (CSS ) Profile

The Federal Student Aid Office has not yet provided guidance on reporting assets in a SNT or ABLE. Currently, the CSS/Financial Aid Profile does require reporting the assets of siblings and may require the disclosure of assets in a SNT and ABLE.  In these circumstances, families should give details of how these funds are used in the special circumstances section of the application and ask each college for a professional judgment review.  While some financial aid departments will ignore the assets in the trust, most will not.  They may however, consider the high costs of dependent care when making their grant determinations.

3. Student Loan Repayment

student-loan-debt-1160848_960_720If their student loan covers a time period during which the individual had an ABLE account open, repayment may be considered a Qualified Disability Expense and be paid from the ABLE.

If you become totally and permanently disabled (TPD), you may qualify for a TPD discharge of your federal student loans.  Refer to DisabilityDischarge.com for more information. 

Also, If you are employed by a government or not-for-profit organization, you may be able to receive loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Refer to StudentAid.ed.gov for more information.

Sources:

MEFA, Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority

Fidelity Investments, Attainable Savings Account

Evisors.com

Ableforalll.com

Nolo.com

Content in this material is for general information only and  not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual,  nor intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice.  We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor. 

Prior to investing in an ABLE or 529 account investors should consider whether the investor’s or designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state’s ABLE program.  Withdrawals used for qualified disability expenses are federally tax free.  Tax treatment at the state level may vary.

Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.

 

 

Tags: transition planning, Special Needs Trusts, planning for college, ABLE Account, FAFSA, Planning for college with disabilities

5 Little Known Facts: The ABLE Account and Social Security

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Wed, Jun 05, 2019 @ 06:00 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP,  CTFA

Visit our NEW Interactive Workshops Calendar

  1. May Social Security benefits be deposited into an ABLE account? 

    • adult-blazer-cellphone-2_1081230Social Security Income (SSI) is a means-tested program. SSI is intended to pay for living expenses for individuals with disabilities who would otherwise have a difficult time paying for food & shelter. It makes sense to segregate the SSI in an account used to pay for living expenses and not deposit into the ABLE account. One exception might be If the recipient is getting close to having $2000 in resources, they may choose to deposit some funds into their ABLE account.
    • Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) is an entitlement (not means-tested) program based upon the beneficiary’s earnings record. You may deposit SSDI into an ABLE account.
       
  2. What happens when a child has a disability under age 18, receives SSI and opens an ABLE account, and then becomes gainfully employed after age 18?

  • The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. The Social Security Administration has a two-part definition and you must meet both parts to get benefits.

    1. If a person of any age is able to earn Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), which is currently $1,220 gross per month, they will not be eligible to receive benefits from Social Security.
    2. The person must have a physical or mental condition expected to last 12 months or result in death that prevents them from earning SGA.

  • While this person may lose their SSI benefit, they may continue to contribute to their ABLE account- in fact, the ABLE to Work Act allows them to potentially contribute more! They may contribute the $15,000 annual limit PLUS their adjusted gross income or $12,140- the current federal poverty level, whichever is less, meaning they may contribute up to $27,140 in 2019. There is one caveat:  they are not allowed to participate in ABLE to Work and also participate in a workplace retirement or 401K plan.

  1. What is the status of child support and the ABLE account?

    • Child support is considered unearned income. Unearned income including pension, 401K, worker’s compensation payments, unemployment compensation, veteran’s benefits, rental income and child support payments can be deposited into an ABLE account. These income sources also follow the usual income counting rules for the public benefits program and cannot qualify you for additional benefits.
  1. Can you use the ABLE account to pay for housing expenses and avoid in-kind supports?
    • You can draw money from an ABLE account for housing expenses without it being considered an illegal transfer of funds. This would allow a parent or other family member to deposit money into the ABLE account to help pay living expenses.  If the money is given to the account holder directly, it is considered an In-Kind Support and may impact SSI.

  2. What is the status of Medicaid payback in Massachusetts and other states?

  • The Medicaid payback provision varies from state to state.
  • In Massachusetts, the state “may or have the potential” to claw back a portion of the proceeds an individual received from Medicaid from their ABLE account if they have one(minus any premiums they paid). In terms of ABLE, this claw back exists only during the period the ABLE account was in existence before their death. If they received Medicaid prior to the ABLE account-that portion is not included in the claw back- only the time period during the ABLE account applies. Before the claw back takes place, when an ABLE account owner passes away, the money in the ABLE account goes to the person’s estate. Prior to the claw back, the estate can pay funeral/burial expenses and any outstanding disability related expenses with the ABLE account however.  A person who receives Medicaid over a lifetime is likely to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars- with a smaller claw back potential.  Any potential claw back can be weighed with the benefits of ABLE overall.
  • Medicaid payback may only be avoided with a third-party special needs trust. Upon the beneficiary’s death, the proceeds will go to the secondary beneficiaries.

Read ABLE Basics, Strategies & Case Studies

Sources:

MEFA, Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, Attainable Account

Fidelity Investments, Attainable Account

Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/ssi/

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, https://aspe.hhs.gov/2019-poverty-guidelines

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: disability supports, Government Benefits, ABLE Account, Social security income

Part II - Whoa! My Child Isn't the Only One Getting Older!!

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Sat, Apr 27, 2019 @ 07:00 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP,  CTFAVisit our NEW Interactive Workshops Calendar

This blog kicks off a series illustrating a step-by-step approach to planning for the care of your adult child with special needs. Read Part I. 

 Part II - Figuring Out the Next Steps
bloom-blossom-feet-2120087

Adjusting Expectations - in a Good Way!

Sarah had a lot to think about but being sidelined had allowed her to step outside her daily life and see things she had been too busy to notice. While she was injured, Thomas had stepped up to help in so many ways. She had always viewed Thomas and their family life through the lens of his dual diagnosis of developmental disabilities and autism. While he had always had household chores, it had never occurred to her to ask him to do more; things like carry the laundry baskets to and from the basement, bring in the mail, and clear the front walk of newly fallen snow. With her direction and support, he was able to unpack and put the groceries from the PeaPod delivery away.

Sometimes it’s the small things that add up to big changes.  In thinking about his future living arrangements, Sarah realized she needed to consider both Thomas' expectations and her own.  She had some thinking to do about some very big questions.

Thomas Sarah
What are his capabilities and contributions to the household?

Was she ready to think about, talk about and plan for Thomas to live elsewhere?

What are his thoughts and preferences? 

Was she ready to build a network of people who would care about Thomas and be sure he is supported in his life?


heart-clip-art-heart_Clipart_FreeThe Letter of Intent – The Details of Daily Living.

 As a very important first step, we suggested Sarah begin filling out a Letter of Intent, the “Who, What, Where, When, and How” of Thomas’ life. With the information from the Letter of Intent as a starting point,  we would then work together to create the next level of Special Needs Planning; creating a Team to Carry On.  Download a fillable Letter of Intent here

 

 

Sarah and Thomas’ Team to Carry On

A Team to Carry On is a  plan for Thomas’ life when Sarah is gone or can no longer do all that she does today. Planning for a Team to Carry On is an evolving process, and we will be there to advise you every step of the way. There will be three basic steps:

  1. Tie together all of the Five Factors of Special Needs Planning involved in planning for Thomas’ future:
    1. Five Factors JPEG LogoLegal
    2. Family & Support
    3. Government Benefits
    4. Financial
    5. And last, but not least, Emotional.
  2. Discuss who might step in to take on Sarah’s many roles. Think about family, friends, community and professionals and their ability to take on responsibility in the future.  There are roles for people to play both big and small and as Sarah had experienced, the small things can make a big difference.
    • As an example, Sarah’s next door neighbor, who was very fond of Thomas, had helped be the liaison with transportation for Thomas to and from work for the few weeks she was incapacitated. Might this neighbor be someone to take Thomas to a baseball game each year?
  3. Communicate with and begin to involve the people on your Team in Thomas’ life today.
    • As an example, we have several clients who have begun bringing their adult child’s siblings to our planning meetings. There are many varied  roles a sibling may take on; everything from the responsibilities of a Guardian to just being there as a brother or sister.
    • Include non-siblings and others– cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors and professionals to our planning meeting to let them know they are part of the child’s team.

 Read more about A Team to Carry On

Tags: autism, caregivers for special needs, special needs Letter of Intent, A Team to Carry On, autism and employment, Aging Caregiver, developmental disabilities

Whoa! My Child Isn't the Only One Getting Older!!

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Sat, Apr 20, 2019 @ 07:00 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP,  CTFA

Visit our NEW Interactive Workshops Calendar

This blog kicks off a series illustrating a step-by-step approach to planning for the care of your adult child with special needs. 

Considerable We have just been quoted extensively in Planning for your adult child’s care, when she’ll never be able to care for herselfpublished in Considerable, an online magazine. 

 

Part I - Meet Sarah

The moment the door closed for our meeting, our client Sarah, whom we’ve worked with for many years, said “We need to talk about what happened to me over the holidays. “ 

 The Wake up Call

bloom-blossom-feet-2120087She had simply been coming down the stairs of her home when she slipped on a tread and landed awkwardly, breaking a few of the bones in her right foot. Recovery from a broken foot is not a quick fix; the first week of complete immobility and pain had been followed by a few weeks on crutches, then a walking cast and then finally, she was able to walk unassisted, resume her daily activities and very importantly, wear her shoes!

The broken foot had healed but Sarah’s life had been upended in a way that she had not anticipated.  The accident had opened a window on the future, and given her a view of what life might be like as she grew older; a time when she might not be as strong or nimble as she is now. 

Sarah is taking this wake-up call very seriously, driven primarily by concern over the future care of her adult son, Thomas.  Thomas lives with her and has developmental disabilities.  He participates in a day program but right now, his other activities are limited and they spend almost all of their time together.

 

Working on a Plan 

Sarah had 3 questions she wanted to discuss and plan for:  

  • Where will Thomas live?
  • What supports will he need?
  • What resources do I need to make this happen?

While Sarah and Thomas have their own individual lives and circumstances, Sarah’s concerns are far from unique.  Many of the parents we work with have given voice to these same worries.

When we first meet someone, we usually begin with some basic questions.  We backed things up a bit and asked,

  • Who was your first call when you fell?
  • Does that person know Thomas” routine?
  • Does the agency running Thomas’ program have the authority to speak to this person?

We have learned that it is important to be sensitive to all considerations, particularly emotional factors, and how they may influence the motivation a parent has in planning.  It is very easy to feel overwhelmed and become frozen into inaction. We walk with them, step by step, to keep the discussion focused and moving forward.

 

Part II - Figuring Out the Next Steps - published next week. 

adult-beach-drawing-698899

 

Tags: parents of people with disabilities, caregivers for special needs, special needs Letter of Intent, Aging Caregiver

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