The Relationship Between Special Needs, Disability, and Special Needs Law

YOU MAY HAVE HEARD THE TERM “Specials Needs Law,” IN THE CONTEXT OF DISABILITY AND SPECIAL NEEDS, AND WONDERED WHAT, IF ANYTHING, THAT HAS TO DO WITH SPECIAL NEEDS.

Actually, the skills required for a “Special Needs Law” attorney are identical with the field known as Elder Law: familiarity with the rules of public benefits programs such as SSI and Medi-Cal; knowing and advocating for the legal rights of those with disabilities; thoughtful estate planning for the care of someone who needs assistance, or is unable to care for themselves; understanding the challenges to family and caregivers; and being able to integrate all of this with thoughtful planning. Since there is no certified or recognized specialization in California for “Special Needs Law,” most special needs attorneys will identify themselves as “elder law attorneys.” The most experienced of those will qualify with the State Bar as Certified Elder Law Attorneys (CELAs) or Certified Legal Specialists in Estate Planning,Trusts and Probate, or both. While at first blush, this relationship between “elder” and “special needs” law is not obvious, the informed special needs consumer should understand this close association if they wish to obtain the best qualified legal assistance.