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Planning Ahead for Peace of Mind

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By: Sipi Gupta | January 23, 2020

Most of us think about taking care of our aging parents or spouse when they’re older, and not our kids. But long-term care of adults with disabilities is the next crisis facing Americans.  Ask any of the more than 39.8 million  Until that time, however, you will hear parents asking themselves: What happens when I am no longer able to care for my child?


Here at Gupta Law, parents of children with special needs are strongly urged to begin planning AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  Special needs planning is a daunting task that has overwhelmed parents and clients for years.  And the Firm’s New Year’s gift to you is a breakdown of the steps and documents you need to best position your adult children with disabilities for lif...

By: Sipi Gupta | January 13, 2020

Today, most courts find that a parent has a duty to support an adult child who is unable (as opposed to unwilling) to support himself. Sometimes this is based on a court’s interpretation of an applicable statute. Other times there is no statute on point and the court instead relies on the decisions of courts in prior cases. Occasionally, if the court has no supporting statutory or case law on which to rely, the court will forge ahead and base its decision on its interpretation of the historical common law relating to parental duties.

A small number of courts around the country have held that a parent has no duty to support an adult child who cannot support herself. This minority position usually results from a court relying on a statute that...

By: Sipi Gupta | September 13, 2019

Although special needs planning can seem overwhelming, it is important to begin identifying what your son or daughter will need throughout his or her life and the what-ifs for when you are no longer there.

Step 1: What Will Be Needed?

  • A future needs assessment taking into consideration your child's disability and anticipated resources - either from public programs like Medicaid and SSI or through private funds. 
  • Tracking regular and intermittent expenses to give you a baseline that includes the costs associated with your child's day-to-day living
  • Contact nonprofits for people with disabilities that offer support and education as well as the invaluable opportunity to connect with and learn from the experiences of others.  
  • Get a...

By: Sipi Gupta | May 13, 2019

There are many federal government benefit programs available to individuals with disabilities. Programs are often referred to by confusing acronyms (LIHEAP, SNAP, QMB, to name just a few) and some programs are very different but sound similar (for instance, Medicare and Medicaid or SSI and SSDI). Stop in each week for a spotlight on a different benefit program. Today, we take a look at Adoption Assistance.

Benefit:  Cash benefit to parents who adopt special needs children
Asset Limit:  None
Income Limit:  None
Comments:  Amount of the benefit and term of the benefit varies with each state and the child's needs

By: Sipi Gupta | April 25, 2019

These concerts allow sensory-sensitive patrons to engage with the music and the concert hall on their own terms!!

Relaxed Sensory Friendly Performances

What is a Relaxed Sensory Friendly Performance?

Relaxed performances are designed to provide a concert experience that is welcoming, inclusive, and comfortable for children and families with sensory sensitivities, as well as anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment.

Our aim is to create a safe and accepting environment where children, including those on the autism spectrum and with other developmental disabilities, and their families can experience live music together. The Academy of Music’s Ballroom—with its comfy carpet-floor (...

By: Sipi Gupta | February 22, 2018

Imagine a holistic approach to creating more accessible spaces.   Check out this primer on Universal  Design, then read about the remarkable shift to a world with increased accessibility.

By: Sipi Gupta | May 11, 2017

The challenges of being a child with special needs, or the parent of one, are fairly well known and documented. Less talked about and often ignored is the experience of being the sibling of someone with special needs.  The role can bring with it a confusion of emotions, including frustration, anger, pride, shame, competitiveness, protectiveness, and a sense of having been abandoned in favor of someone with seemingly greater needs.  All of these feelings are explored and dealt with in a new comic book, “Adventures From My World,” conceived and written by a New Jersey teenager named Julie Averbach.

The 20-page comic book presents six illustrated stories of children confronting the challenges of having a sibling with special...

Category: Kids 

Tags: special needs, good news, kids 

By: Sipi Gupta | April 30, 2017

Parents of students with disabilities may be rethinking their child’s educational plan after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of a child with autism and attention deficit disorder whose parents took him out of public school.  

At issue in the case was the level of educational benefit that public schools must provide to students under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  The Act guarantees children with disabilities a “free appropriate public education,” but the level of progress a student must make in order for the education to be called “appropriate” has been unclear, leading to school districts across the country interpreting the meaning differently.

The case revolved around Colorado par...

By: Sipi Gupta | April 25, 2017

The Trump administration is planning to allocate billions of public education dollars to expand private school voucher programs, but vouchers may not be the best option for families with special needs children.

Vouchers allow parents to use public funds to pay for tuition at a private school of their choice, including religiously affiliated schools.  This may seem like a good solution for students with disabilities, especially those having trouble thriving in the public school setting, but parents who accept and use vouchers may be unwittingly giving up their child’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Act guarantees children with disabilities a “free and appropriate public education” that meets thei...

By: Sipi Gupta | March 07, 2017

The terms "dependent" and "qualifying child" are key concepts in determining a parent's eligibility for several tax benefits. Under Internal Revenue Code § 152, a dependent is defined as a qualifying child or a qualifying relative. A child is a qualifying child of a parent if:

  • The child lives with the parent for more than one-half of the year;
  • The child meets the applicable age requirement (see below); and
  • The child does not provide over one-half of his or her own support for the year.

Concerning the age requirement, a child is a qualifying child if the child is under age 19 or, if the child is a student, under age 24. Under a special rule, however, a child who is permanently and totally disabled is also considered a qualify...

By: Sipi Gupta | February 26, 2017

Parents of children with special needs typically incur expenses for educating and caring for the child that are not reimbursed by insurance or government programs. 

In the coming weeks, Blogging Away will discuss valuable tax deductions and other benefits that may partially offset some of these non-reimbursed expenses or otherwise reduce the tax burden of parents with special needs children. 

Watch this space to learn about:

- "Qualifying" Child(ren)

-  Deductions for Dependents

- Medical Expense Deductions

- Earned Income Credit

By: Sipi Gupta | February 11, 2017

The Department of Defense now allows assignment of military Survivor Benefit Plans (SBP) to a valid d4A special needs trust for a dependent disabled child. Previously, military members and retirees may have been advised to NOT designate a child with a disability as the beneficiary under such a plan. The new law allows SBP payments to be paid to a self-settled trust without jeopardizing an individual’s SSI / Medicaid benefits. Any such assignment must be irrevocable in order to qualify.

More information is available at the Military OneSource Special Needs page.

By: Sipi Gupta | January 27, 2017

Estate planning can be overwhelming. You know it’s the right thing to do, you want to get it done, but it’s easy to put off until tomorrow. The process is even more difficult for those who must consider the care and comfort of a family member with disabilities.

To get started, take it one step at a time.

1. Get Organized. Make a list of your assets and their approximate values. Don’t forget to include beneficiary-designated assets (such as life insurance and retirement plans) and tangible personal property, such as rare books, old coins, antiques, and jewelry. If you are the primary caregiver for an individual with disabilities, gather the most important documents someone else will need to take care of that person. Put everything in one pl...

By: Sipi Gupta | January 24, 2017

Philadelphia, PA - The First Judicial District of Pennsylvania has named Sipi Gupta to its Pro Bono Roll of Honor.  Gupta was recognized at the First Judicial District 2016 Pro Bono Publico Awards & Roll of Honor Reception. The event was hosted by the First Judicial District judges at Philadelphia City Hall. 

The judges from the First Judicial District created the Pro Bono Roll of Honor to honor attorneys who have worked on pro bono matters in the Philadelphia courts. Attorneys named to the honor roll must have provided pro bono representation in a matter pending in one of the courts of the First Judicial District during the preceding year.

The Gupta Law Firm logs nearly 600 hours of pro bono service annually...

By: Sipi Gupta | January 21, 2017

  • Make a Plan and Keep It Updated. Planning for your dependent’s future needs goes beyond weekly/daily medical treatments. Caregivers need to review beneficiary designations, apply for government benefits, prepare a Last Will and Testament, and carefully consider other planning techniques unique to each individual situation. Update your plan every 3-7 years to stay on top of changing laws and regulations.
  • Work With an Expert. Effective special needs planning requires a high degree of specialized knowledge and expertise. The same holds true for dealing with issues of medical insurance authorizations for specialized services and products such as physical therapy and medical equipment. Make sure your support team includes an experienced att...

By: Sipi Gupta | January 21, 2017

Divorce is never easy, but if a child or spouse with special needs is involved, there are special considerations. At the same time, family law attorneys aren't always familiar with how to best protect a spouse or child with special needs during a divorce.  Special needs planners can provide information to family law attorneys who may not understand the special needs planning vehicles that are available and the issues special issues families should take into consideration.

Because no two cases are alike, it is important to look at each case individually to ensure that a divorce does not leave the individual with special needs in an even worse position.  For example, if a court awards a spouse with special needs alimony, the income ...