Applying for Government Benefits? Here's what to expect.

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Thu, Jun 11, 2020 @ 11:45 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team at Affinia Financial Group John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP, ChSNC | Alexandria Nadworny,  CFP, CTFA

Our educational outreach continues via webinar throughout the time of the  pandemic. Please contact Alex Nadworny via email - - to discuss an online presentation to your group.


Filing for SSI/SSDI: Expectations & Reality 

Webinar 🎧Tuesday, June 16 at 4 PM

deniedIn 2019, 2,015,200 individuals applied for social security disability benefits and 723,900 or 35.9% of those applications were granted. (Source: Social Security administration )

Our webinar features Mark Bronstein, JD, an attorney who has been working with individuals claiming SSI and SSDI for two decades.  He will walk you through what to expect when you file for Social Security and actions you can take that may help you maximize the lifetime benefits for yourself and your children.
We will present:
  • A high level view of eligibility requirements
  • Planning strategies for families
  • Case Examples

Please join us!



About Maximizing Resources for your Family Member 

The Filing for SSI/SSDI webinar will talk about maximizing the public resources available, however the most effective means to providing an individual the opportunity to achieve a full life is to maximize both public and private resources.

exhausted-mature-man-rubbing-nose-bridge-after-wearing-3974777Service providers continue to struggle with limited budget constraints and high staff turnover.  Families who have tired of receiving minimal supports and services will often utilize their own resources to supplement those needed.  Although every individual has their own personality and needs, many dreams have been realized by creatively pooling resources between several families. 

The best way to identify and obtain services is to go directly to the gateway for those services. It is important to be educated when calling them directly; it may be helpful to gather information from other families or advocacy agencies involved with or knowledgeable about that specific service area. Once you know and understand the "rules of the road", ask to speak with a manager. 

As Certified Financial Planner Professionals™, we focus upon maximizing the resources families have available to plan for both their financial security and for the lifetime needs of their child with a disability. Please join us on Tuesday, June 16 for our webinar and contact us to discuss whether we can help you maximize your resources to provide a full life for your child. 


Mark Bronstein and Law Office of Mark Bronstein are not affiliated with Affinia Financial Group, Special Needs Financial Planning, or LPL Financial.

 The information provided in the presentation is for general information only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized advice. We suggest that you speak to a legal advisor about your individual situation.

Tags: Government Benefits, Social security income

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 at Affinia Financial Group John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP, ChSNC | Alexandria Nadworny,  CFP, CTFA

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  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


MEFA, Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, Attainable Account

Fidelity Investments, Attainable Account

Social Security Administration,

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services,







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

Social Security Announces 0.3 Percent Benefit Increase for 2017

Posted by Patty Manko on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 @ 06:13 PM


The Special Needs Financial Planning Team 

Cynthia Haddad, CFP® | John Nadworny, CFP® | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP®


social_security_logo.pngMonthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 65 million Americans will increase 0.3 percent in 2017, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 60 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2017. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2016. The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $127,200 from $118,500. Of the estimated 173 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2017, about 12 million will pay more because of the increase in the taxable maximum.

Information about Medicare changes for 2017, when announced, will be available at For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit

NOTE TO CORRESPONDENTS: Attached is a fact sheet showing the effect of the various automatic adjustments.

Source: Social Security Administration

Tags: Government Benefits

Important Questions to Ask When Applying for Government Benefits

Posted by Patty Manko on Wed, Jan 21, 2015 @ 11:16 AM


The most effective means to providing an individual the opportunity to achieve a full life is to maximize both public and private resources.

Service providers continue to struggle with limited budget constraints and high staff turnover.  Families tired of receiving minimal supports and services often combine their resources to supplement those needed.  Although every individual has their own personality and needs, many dreams have been realized by creatively pooling resources between many families. 

The best way to identify and obtain services is to go directly to the gateway to those services while gathering information from other families or advocacy agencies involved in that specific service area.

Here are a few pointers when trying to advocate for services for your family member.  

  1. When you apply for the service, the gatekeeper staff - the people who control access to the benefits you seek- should give you an overview of the entire process. If he or she does not, be sure to ask. You still may not get all of your questions answered.
  2. The process may look intimidating. This is why it is so important to connect with a parent or advocacy group for support. Try to get objective input, even if you have to pay for the information. Even if the group you contact does not provide specific services, the members and/or staff can advise you of the options in your region.
  3. Other parents can share what they have done to obtain services. Learning about advocacy activities can ultimately advance service availability. 
We can help you maneuver the maze of government benefits. Parents and Trustees need to protect themselves from potentially disqualifying a beneficiary from their much needed government benefits.  Download our checklist of questions to ask when applying for support services below.
We will be hosting an Assessments and Evaluations Panel  on February 11.  Contact Alex  (781-756-1804) for more information.
Download our  Questions to Ask when Applying for Government Benefits

Tags: Government Benefits

Planning for a Child with Special Needs in Divorce

Posted by Patty Manko on Mon, Sep 09, 2013 @ 04:04 PM

divorce and special needs child resized 600Finding a fair and equitable agreement when parties are divorcing is often a challenge. When parents of a child with special needs separate and divorce, the challenge is magnified. Based upon both our personal and professional experience, it is critical to bring parents into agreement on a plan that does not take sides, but focuses on representing the needs of their child.

This means planning for families with unique sets of circumstances. We can help. 

  • Based upon our understanding of the obstacles children with special needs may have in growing up, we can describe and define the needs of the child.
  • Based upon the child’s unique situation, we can quantify the amount of financial support necessary to meet these needs, for the short- and long-term.
  • We will connecting parents, when interested, with various agencies that provide support services.
  • We inform parents about available government programs.
Importantly, we not only define the need but can work with the parties to realistically plan and make it achievable.

 We welcome an opportunity to discuss how our services can help in cases of divorce  and provide the best plan for a child’s lifetime supports.  As a basic resource not customized for families of individuals with special needs, download the pre-divorce checklist below.

Download our Pre-Divorce Planning Checklist

Tags: Special Needs Financial Planning, supports for special needs, siblings, Divorce, Government Benefits, special needs Divorce

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