CT Golden Years: Disabled? Elderly? Got a Plan?

The aging of the population brings its own set of medical problems and foremost among these is the increased likelihood of disability due to diseases or other causes.

Although care for the elderly and care for the disabled can be distinct disciplines they also can overlap, as was the case with a friend of Avon realtor Lori MacGowan.

MacGowan, who is helping her disabled elderly friend apply for assistance with home care, found that she had been referred to The Plan of Connecticut. MacGowan hadn’t heard of The Plan previously and wanted to learn more so she could better assist her friend, who was on Title XIX – Medicaid.

Her questions included why there was a $1,050 registration fee for each client, as well as a $150 fee billed to her attorney. MacGowan emailed CTWatchdog.com asking if we knew more about The Plan. “We would like to know more about them and how they operate,” MacGowan said in her email.

Watchdog contacted Kerry Tedford-Coles, the outreach coordinator for The Plan – which is an acronym for the Planned Lifetime Assistance Network – and found that it was established about two decades ago with the authorization of the Connecticut Legislature specifically to help care for the disabled. In fact most members of The Plan’s Board of Directors are parents of disabled children.

The goal of the organization is to help disabled people of all ages, including the elderly, avoid institutionalization, which will save both the clients and the taxpayers considerable money over what they would pay in a special care facility. This is accomplished by helping establish trust accounts for each client and paying for their care out of those accounts.

Tedford-Coles said The Plan is a not-for-profit entity and the costs of creating the personalized trust accounts are significant. “We pay large sums of money for attorneys and other professionals for the legal documents,” she said, adding, “We’re not a money machine.”

Ron Winter

Tedford-Coles said The Plan can’t use a one-size-fits-all template because it has to individualize each trust account and if even one word is inaccurate or incorrect the trust could be invalidated.

She said The Plan was established under Connecticut’s Legislature to be a fiduciary for its clients and reports to both the Secretary of State and the Connecticut Department of Banking. State laws governing fiduciaries are subject to change, Tedford-Coles said, so when trusts are established for new clients it is important that they be legal under the existing laws – necessitating specialized legal review which doesn’t come cheap.

The Plan assists the families of its clients establish the trust accounts which then pay for the services for which the client is enrolled. The Plan arranges for the various services the disabled client uses, and handles billing and payments from the money that is deposited in the trust account.

When a person signs up with The Plan – either on their own or as power of attorney for someone who can’t handle their own affairs – they agree that monthly payments will be made into the trust and The Plan will then make payments on behalf of the client.

Tedford-Coles said that The Plan enables elderly clients to continue living in their homes by transferring assets to the trust rather than being institutionalized. In the case of disabled children, The Plan gives their parents the means to see that they receive proper care even after the parents are gone.

“You don’t have to write your children out of your will,” Tedford-Coles noted.

From its website The Plan states that its mission is “to assist families in planning for the future of their family member with a disability and to provide continuity of services after the principal advocate/care-givers have died or are unable to continue. PLAN does this by managing trusts, set up by families, for the benefit of their family member with a disability which: supplement State and Federal benefits; help the individual maintain self sufficiency; prevent unnecessary hospitalizations; and enhance quality of life.”

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