SOURCE: Donald Vanarelli, Esq

November 30, 2014 10:32 ET

Top New Jersey Attorney Wins in New Jersey Supreme Court

WESTFIELD, NJ--(Marketwired - Nov 30, 2014) - Donald Vanarelli, Esq. is proud to announce victory in the New Jersey Supreme Court. The high court ruled to allow survivor benefits to be designated to a special needs trust for children with disabilities of retired New Jersey Police and Firefighters.

Special needs trusts make it possible for persons with disabilities to continue to receive available public assistance through Medicaid, a means-tested program, to pay for the high costs of long-term care, while still allocating enough income to afford basic and personal expenses. It is specifically designed to protect the assets of an individual with a disability. The trust will direct the trustee to use the trust funds to supplement, but not replace, public benefits of the beneficiary. The Special Needs Trust must be managed by a trustee who is someone other than the beneficiary.

The New Jersey Supreme Court reviewed the circumstances that lead to their decision, allowing state pensions to be paid into these special needs trusts after an ongoing debate with Thomas Saccone, a former New Jersey Firefighter, arose. Thomas Saccone began advocating for his son Anthony, who suffers from a severe mental disability, to have a portion of his retirement benefits set aside in a separate trust to ensure he receives public assistance without any risk or "fine print at the bottom".

Initially, the Board of Trustees of the Police and Fireman's Retirement System (PFRS) refused to consider Saccone's request, holding that Anthony would need to make the claim after his father's passing. After years of litigation and appeals, the New Jersey Supreme Court sided with Saccone, allowing him to direct his survivor benefits to Anthony's special needs trust. Read the decision.

The decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court means that disabled children of police and firefighters in New Jersey no longer will have to be forced to choose between survivor's benefits earned by their parents, and public assistance programs designed for their medical needs. This ruling will change the lives of many, as disabled children of these public servants are now able to have a guaranteed, secure financial future should their parent predecease them. 

Mr. Vanarelli is proud to have represented Mr. Saccone for the past 6 years, and have helped him secure a proper and fair future for his son, while also ensuring that other families with disabled children are able to provide the same security for their family members as well. 

About Donald Vanarelli:

Donald D. Vanarelli is a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation, an ABA-certifying organization. Mr. Vanarelli, a practicing attorney in both New Jersey and New York since 1983, represents older or disabled persons and their representatives in financing long-term medical care, nursing home issues, qualifying for Medicare, Medicaid and other public benefits, special needs planning, estate planning, probate and guardianship proceedings. Mr. Vanarelli has also been approved as an Accredited Professional Mediator in civil, equity and probate litigation, serves as a mediator in family and divorce matters, and practices collaborative law.

Mr. Vanarelli is a past Chairman of the Somerset County Elder Law Committee, and past Secretary of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. His memberships include; the New Jersey Bar's Elder Law Section, the Union County Elder Law Committee and the Center for Guardianship Certification. Mr. Vanarelli was named to the New Jersey Super Lawyer list in the years 2007-2011 by a survey of his peers.

For more information or to contact Donald Vanarelli, please visit

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