My son is 33 and multiply handicapped and lives with me 24/7. He receives his
father's Social Security Death Benefits monthly of 1,400. He has a Special
Needs Trust that owns 1/2 the apartment and pays 1/2 of the maintenance
monthly of our apartment we live in and his other expenses. Since it is an SNT
these payments are not considered income for Medicaid purposes. In NY State, he
is considered a Dependent Adult child and his SNT payment of expenses and his
Death Benefits from SS are not considered income for purposes of his Medicaid
eligibility. Can I file as a single head of household? I am 67 and retired. May
I file as SHH. As per the terms of the SNT, I can not provide additional support
because it would constitute income and affect his Medicaid status. In addition
to advice, could you please provide me any sections of the law or rules that
govern a special case like this. I would follow your advice/directive, of
course, but need to share this with my tax preparer and his Bank Trustee who
were both unable to advise me.
On 11/14/13 7:38 PM, Mother of adult handicapped 33 yr old living at
home 24/7 wrote:
In order for you to file as Head of Household (HoH), you first need to
have a qualifying person living with you for more than six months and
secondly you must be providing more than half of the cost to maintain
the household. Typically, the qualifying person is going to be your
dependent child or parent. In your case, the qualifying person could be
your "totally and permanently disabled" son. This requires that he be
your "qualifying child" for the dependency exemption. In order to be
your qualifying child he must pass one additional test other than his
relationship to you and his living with you. He can not be self-supporting.
In order to make this determination, one must first add up his total
support and then add up how much of that support he is providing. If he
provides more than half, he is self-supporting and he would not be your
qualifying child, not be your dependent and you could not file as head
of household. Total support includes the fair rental value of lodging
provided, his food, clothing, education, transportation, recreation,
medical and dental expenses and any other item required for his care.
You state that he receives SSA benefits. If he spends those funds on his
own care, then that amount counts as money he provides for himself. The
funds from the trust that get spent on his care can be tricky. There
isn't just one kind of special needs trusts. However, typically they are
set up as qualified disability trusts in order to maximize the trusts
income tax exemption. Additionally, they are usually set up such that
they are not grantor trusts. I.e., the trust income belongs to the
creator of the trust (typically the parent). So, assuming that any trust
income that is provided to your child rightly belongs on his own income
tax return, that money would also count as money he provides for his own
Assuming you can pass the above tests and claim a dependency exemption,
you still have to pass the test for providing more than half of the cost
of maintaining the household. This is different than his total support
test. This test requires that you add up the cost of the household and
then see if you provided more than half. These costs would include the
rent paid for the apartment, utilities, maintenance/repairs, household
property insurance, food "consumed in the apartment" and any other
expense directly related to upkeep. E.g., the cost of a maid service or
If he is not your qualifying child then you can't file as HoH and you
can't claim an exemption. If he is your qualifying child, you can claim
the exemption and you may be able to file as HoH if you pass the
maintaining the household test.
Lastly, assuming his father was your spouse and he died either in 2011
or 2012, and your son is your dependent, then you could use the filing
status Qualifying Widow With Dependent Child for 2012 and 2013 tax
years. This is better than HoH, as this status has the same tax rates as
filing Married Jointly. In addition, you don't need to be concerned
about passing the HoH test for maintaining the household.
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