The Promises and Pitfalls of Home Ownership for People With Special Needs

People with special needs often require housing that accommodates their lifestyle. In many cases, group living facilities are called for, with the group environment providing stability and support. But in other cases, a person with special needs requires a very specific type of housing, designed particularly for her. Or, it may simply make sense for a person with special needs to have a place of her own. The rental market is clearly not equipped to provide the specific accommodations many individuals with special needs require. Fortunately, there are many ways to provide private housing for a person with special needs without compromising the majority of her means-based government benefits.

The first step when thinking about purchasing a home for a person with special needs is to decide whether the home should be held in trust or given to the resident to own in her own name. Since many people with special needs are perfectly capable of managing their own property, both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid regulations permit beneficiaries to own their own home without it counting as an asset for purposes of qualifying for or maintaining benefits (although there may be specific limits on the value of the home a beneficiary owns, which vary by state). Home ownership also allows increased access to credit, binds a person with special needs with their community, and provides a deep sense of self-worth.Source: Danielle B. Mayoras, Attorney and The Director of Community Education for The Center for Probate Litigation, The Center for Elder Law, and The Center for Special Needs Planning, divisions of Barron, Rosenberg, Mayoras & Mayoras, PC