How critical is understanding the lifetime costs for your child before you settle your lawsuit?
When a child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, there are many factors to consider when planning for the future. The projected expenses associated with managing cerebral palsy are important to know as soon as possible, for example, as well as the ins and outs of health insurance and complying with government benefits.
Paying for the Financial Costs of Cerebral Palsy
This care for a child with cerebral palsy often addresses more than his or her physical limitations; it might also need to assist with associative medical conditions like cognitive delay, vision and hearing impairment, and others. Costs add up substantially when a child needs some or all of the following:
- Lifelong medical care
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Special education programs
According to the Mayo Clinic, this disorder of movement, muscle tone, or posture associated with cerebral palsy is caused by damage to a baby’s developing brain, most often before birth. Some families allege that their child’s cerebral palsy was caused by a preventable birth injury. If they file a lawsuit against the responsible physician, staff, and/or hospital, they seek compensation for the long-term supportive care the child will need now and in the future.
Securing a Child’s Future Plan with a Special Needs Trust
There are several needs-based government benefit programs that help people with cerebral palsy pay for their needed care. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid, for example, can cover certain expenses. However, these programs have strict rules regarding compliance, and without proper planning, obtaining a settlement in a birth injury case can lead to a person losing eligibility.
For some, a special needs trust is the answer to adequately complying with government programs while still utilizing settlement proceeds in a productive manner. This type of trust is intended to supplement (but not replace) a person’s government benefits by paying for non-covered services or equipment.
There are two common types of special needs trusts, which I describe in detail in this post. After determining the best route for the child, there are many decisions to make. These include jurisdiction for the trust, a trustee, whether to designate a money manager, and a fee schedule. Each of these decisions is a critical component to a successful trust. When properly administered, a special needs trust can ensure a person is cared for throughout his or her life.
Getting Help Before You Reach Settlement
If you’re a parent and are considering establishing a special needs trust for your child, you’re likely gathering information and have many questions. A great place to start learning about the process is with an experienced settlement planner. Building a comprehensive plan for a child with cerebral palsy requires experience of many levels. Our firm has consulted with hundreds of families, and we would be glad to answer any questions you have.
We also invite families to join our Parents Caring For Special Needs Kids Facebook community, where members share stories, advice, and support.
About the Author
John Bair is an experienced settlement planner and financial consultant. He helps families develop strategies to provide lifelong financial support for children with disabilities, catastrophic injuries, special needs, and congenital abnormalities. Read more about John’s work and his firm, Milestone Consulting, at http://milestoneseventh.com/.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).