Special Gift Guidelines for Those With Special Needs
Many times giving a gift can be as much fun as getting one. But if you’re a family member or caregiver of someone with special needs, you probably know that choosing a gift for them can be a bit more complicated because there are specific guidelines that need to be considered.
Certain special needs might make a person eligible for government assistance. But recipients of Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Supplemental Security Disability Income (SSDI) have restrictions on what type of “gifts” they can receive. And giving the wrong gift could have unexpected – and devastating – consequences, including the loss of their benefits.
While a small inexpensive gift such as slippers or costume jewelry might be fine, anyone receiving SSI is not allowed to accept any monetary gift over $20. By the same token, paying for someone’s rent, utilities or groceries is a no-no. In fact, persons on SSI are not allowed any gifts of more than $20 in cash, traveler’s checks, money orders or even coins. And it’s not a rule to be taken lightly. A gift of more than this could result in the person losing all or part of their government funding for the month. You could say that’s a gift that doesn’t keep giving.
This doesn’t mean you have to stop giving presents to a loved one with special needs. You just need to put in a little more thought – at least until you get the hang of it. Here are some alternative gift ideas for special needs people.
• Give a gift that pampers. Consider a gift that will make the person feel special. A gift card to use at a salon, at a spa or for a massage, manicure or pedicure might be just the perk they need.
• Gifts of entertainment are fun to get. How about giving them tickets to a movie, play, concert or sporting event? If the person uses a wheelchair, remember to make sure that there is wheelchair access and see if they can be in a special needs section if necessary.
• Reading can be a vacation taken from the comfort the reader’s own home. How about a gift card to a local bookstore? Or maybe a subscription to a favorite magazine. A Kindle or Nook is a way for someone to order e-books with a gift card or from the local library.
• Pay directly for services. While you can’t give money to anyone on government assistance, you can make direct payments for them for services such as cable TV, house cleaning, or telephone services.
Keep in mind that any gifts or gift cards must be used by the recipient – they cannot be sold for cash. A little thought will go a long way toward finding the right – and acceptable – gift for someone with special needs. And it’s the thought that counts.