Stuart Flaum

Stuart is personally motivated and sincerely dedicated, helping individuals live self determined and financially secure lives. To that end, Stuart has spent the past 20 years advocating, preparing and designing strategies for successful outcomes. Stuart was appointed by Governor Cuomo in 2013 to serve on the NY State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, a government agency that addresses the needs of people with developmental disabilities. Stuart has served as treasurer of Parent to Parent of New York State, secretary National Autism Association Metro NY, Autism Speaks NYC walk chair, vice president Strokes of Genius and on the Planning and Advisory Committee Devereux Glenholme School. Stuart is a graduate of Hobart College and received a Chartered Special Needs Consultant designation from the American College. Stuart is a New York State Housing Navigator and completed training as a Work Incentives Planning and Benefits Practioner. In addition, Stuart is a member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

Self Advocates talk about Self Advocacy and Self Determination in their lives

Self advocates talk about how self determination and self advocacy go hand in hand.


Learning to advocate for yourself starts for most people at birth. Most people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have a different experience advocating for themselves. Some of this lack of learning stems from many factors beyond this blog. Stay tuned, as the Pick of Week section of the website will feature books about disability, including the history of disability. This very short video from self advocates is particularly interesting because of the connection between self determination, advocacy and quality of life.


two roads between trees

Self Determination and Financial Planning for the Future

Key concepts in special needs planning.


Self determination theory for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is an outcome of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. This video is important because Karrie Shogren, Phd presents the theory and implementation in very simple language. Studies show the theory in practice, leads to better outcomes including, independent living, work, community relatedness and financial betterment. After watching the short video, parents, siblings and people with disabilities will be able to explain the answers to the following questions:

  • What is self determination?
  • Why is self determination essential for planning for the future?
  • Who benefits from self determination?
  • Where can a person implement self determination?
  • When should a person and the important people around them begin self determination?


Listen to Karrie Shogren, Phd talk about the who, what, where, when and why to self determination .

You have to laugh with Josh Blue

An Incredibly funny stand up comedian.


Josh does over 200 shows a year, continuing to spread laughter and break down stereotypes of people with disabilities. His stand-up routine is in a constant state of evolution and his off-the-cuff improvisational skills guarantee that no two shows are alike. 

Critics have said Josh is not a cerebral palsy comic; he’s a comic who happens to have cerebral palsy. However, his closest friends describe him as “a d-bag.”

Check out this video.

A Parent’s Guide to Special Needs Planning Resolutions

Are you reviewing your family special needs planning in 2022 ?

Special needs planning is not the same for all families in today’s world. There are many more choices for people with disabilities and their loved ones. The choices one makes will lead to different outcomes. Below are some questions to guide your family discussion about special needs planning.


Who is the planning for?
  • Is the planning for yourself, i.e, the parent?
  • Are you planning for an individual with a disability?
  • Is the individual with a disability involved in the decision making?
  • Are you planning for the siblings of the person with a disability?
  • Are you planning with or for your aging parents?
  • Are you planning to coordinate your plan with your dependent’s plan and siblings?
When do you want to implement the special needs plan?
  • Not ready now?
  • Now?
  • In the near future?
  • In the far future?
  • When you are no longer able to provide support and care for your son or daughter?
  • Never?
What are you planning for?
  • Self Determination?
  • A meaningful life in the community?
  • Group home?
  • Home ownership?
  • State and federal benefits?
  • Education?
attending special needs planning workshop

Are Special Needs Planning workshops helpful?

Do you leave a workshop feeling more confused? Have you ever left a Special Needs Planning workshop feeling lost and searching for answers? I know I have. Here are a few idea for a more meaningful experience…


  • A workshop is a presentation for all audiences.
  • Is the workshop about the person with a disability?
  • Use your online time wisely.

1) A Workshop is a presentation

Generally, a presenter is not familiar with your family. The workshop is academic and not relevant to your interests.

2) Is the workshop about the person with a disability?

The focus of a special needs planning workshop is the person with a disability. Too often, the presentation is about caregiver and parent roles.

3) Use your online time wisely.

Covid has enabled people to participate in more presentations than prior to the pandemic. Too much information leads to confusion. Pick and choose which workshops are worth your time.

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Special needs planning COVID 19

COVID 19 Special Needs Financial Planning

This blog entry serves to highlight special needs financial planning (SNFP) reactions to COVID 19. Some challenges are unique to families where an individual has an intellectual and/or developmental disability.

The goal of the Stuart Flaum Planning Team has always been to focus on special needs financial planning. We help people find financial opportunities. These opportunities usually consist of family resources, as well as government benefits. The goal is to help people with ADD, ADHD, and IDD (including people with autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, and intellectual disability) live happy, meaningful and secure lives in the community.

COVID 19 Uncertainty and Special Needs Planning

As a result of COVID 19, many uncertainties have emerged among the families we work with. Some, but not all of the uncertainties are:

1) How will the COVID 19 pandemic, in addition to federal and state deficits, affect medicaid waivers for people with IDD?

2) How will the COVID 19 pandemic affect the ability of IDD state agencies to be reliable and trustworthy resources?

and

3) How will COVID 19 change the resources of families, as well as their ability to plan for the now and for the future?

The Stuart Flaum Planning Team has seen an increase in the willingness of families, including their dependents, siblings, and grandparents, to engage in much more meaningful planning conversations. Many families recognize that the financial disturbance and the closure of state agencies during the pandemic requires them to take personal responsibility. If you find yourself in that situation, act now. Start a plan now; review or revise your special needs financial plan.

Contact the Stuart Flaum Planning Team and learn how we facilitate financial and legal planning using self determination, self direction, government benefits, housing and unique financial security strategies. Experience our unique and effective special needs financial planning strategy, since 2008.

New OPWDD Website

The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities in NY launched their new website last week. I could not have been more excited over the redesign. The design is easy on the eyes. However, the launch of the new OPWDD website is more than a redesign.

IT’S A STATEMENT

The site is similar to the feel and look of other NY State agencies. Though in itself not a bad approach; nor is it inspiring or warm. Ah , and that’s the point. OPWDD is not meant to be your ” rich uncle “. There is no moral obligation.

OPWDD is a staggering 8 BILLION DOLLAR state agency in New York. OPWDD is an agency whose authority and funding is Medicaid, which is an arrangement and obligation between federal, state ( Department of Health ) and local government. 

In addition, easy to locate from the home page is data that drives OPWDD’s decisions. This is different than the way OPWDD informed parents and caregivers over the past years. Much of the data over the years was not available, and when available shared in live forums, almost anecdotally. 

Why is OPWDD sharing data with us? In my opinion, it is to inform us as to the reasons that they will be making decisions that will limit supports and services. That is for another discussion. Parents and caregivers, be resourceful and think outside the box.

I would like to bring attention to the section on housing, to be more specific, types of housing. It is clear to me that the future for housing is through family resources and development  of non certified living arrangements with OPWDD housing subsidies ( self direction and ISS ) for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

This has been the trend for several years…parents and caregivers must address this planning NOW with their financial planners.

HOUSING IS NOT A RIGHT OR A GIVEN

In short, the OPWDD website redesign is well done. It successfully 1) lets parents and caregivers see the data that drives the new decisions and 2) presents an overview of OPWDD programs and 3) redirects decision making to  rules governing the HCBS Waiver in NY State.

Special Needs Planning Financial, Legal and Health Records Management

I have received many e mails from people with disabilities and their families concerned over the Social Security Agency proposal to conduct more frequent disability reviews.

In addition, the governor of NY addressed a very significant issue last week that will affect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In Governor Cuomos’ 2020 State of the State address last week in Albany, the governor intends to empower the state legislature to close the state medicaid deficit with an eye out for OPWDD.

The time has come for families and individuals to take a more active role keeping a lifetime of personal health records in HIPAA compliant virtual vaults. Your information must be organized and readily available for any disability reviews through the lifetime. One’s financial, legal and health special needs planning is under attack.

Be on the look out for the launch of SFC’s ‘s virtual vault for record keeping.

Coming soon.

Chalimony

In my role as a special needs planner, I have refrained from writing about a financial remedy concept called chalimony. Chalimony is a financial remedy concept which can impact special needs outcomes for families in which divorce is present or a non shared household.

For most of these families, child support and alimony are the traditional remedy. However, chalimony bridges the gap, and would be more effective in allocating the financial burden between payor and care taking parent.

In the spirit of systemic change in family law, chalimony increases incentives for both parents to advocate for changes in employment, education, childcare, and community practices that will make it possible for all people with special care needs to access the care they desire.

Learn more about chalimony and engage systemic change for our kids with special needs!

Happy Holiday and New Year