Amicus Briefs

Amicus Briefs

Ron M. Landsman has been active in representing the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Special Needs Alliance, his primary professional affiliations, as friend of the court in a variety of cases raising important questions under Medicaid law and the use of special needs trusts, among other issues. In reverse chronological order, these include:

  • Draper v. Colvin, 779 F.3d 556 (8th Cir, 2015) in the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Filed brief as counsel for the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and Special Needs Alliance are Amicus Curiae. The issue in Draper is whether SSI can deny benefits to someone, otherwise qualified, because the parents who created a special needs trust to hold the child’s personal injury recovery also had authority to act for the child in other regards. (If the parents created the trust as the child’s agents, then SSI would be correct that the trust was not valid under federal law.) Although SSI claimed to decide based on state (South Dakota) law, South Dakota law is to the opposite of what SSI claimed on every aspect of the decision.
  • Saccone v. Board of Trustees of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, 219 N.J. 369, 98 A.3d 1158 (2014) in the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Filed brief as counsel for the Special Needs Alliance are Amicus Curiae.The issue in Saccone is whether the New Jersey police and firefighters’ benefit for disabled children can be directed by the retired worker to a special needs trust for the disabled child. The brief for SNT focused on the apparent confusion of the lower court on the rules respecting special needs trusts and federal public benefits and sought to provide a clear taxonomy of such trusts and how each functioned respecting income and assets. The Supreme Court of New Jersey held that the disabled child of a retired member of the PFRS may have his or her survivors’ benefits paid into a first party SNT created for him or her under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1396p(d)(4)(A).
  • Lewis v. Alexander, 685 F.3d 325 (3rd Cir., 2012). Filed brief as counsel for the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and Special Needs Alliance are Amicus Curiae.The Third Circuit held that Congress established the rules that control pooled special needs trusts for SSI and Medicaid purposes and the states can neither add or detract from those requirements, although they can supevise pooled special needs trusts the way they supervise private trust arrangements generally.