Vincent with book

I am excited to announce the release of an updated and expanded edition of my book, New York Elder Law and Special Needs Practice, which, much to my delight, has been and continues to be a working tool for many elder law and special needs practitioners. The new edition addresses the planning needs of everyone with special needs, regardless of age. It also takes into account recent changes to the law, including the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

The 2019 edition, consisting of 1,577 pages, covers all of the following topics: health care decision making, guardianship, social security benefits including Supplemental Security Income, Medicare options, Medicaid coverage and eligibility planning, Veteran benefits, and special needs planning (including First Party Special Needs and Third Party Supplemental Needs Trusts). Marvin Rachlin and I made every effort to write this treatise in a user-friendly manner so that it can serve as a handy reference guide rather than a bookshelf adornment.

In the ever-changing world of special needs planning and elder law, it is difficult to keep a book of this nature up-to-date. Many people deserve thanks for bringing this project to fruition, starting with my dear friend Marvin Rachlin, who passed away in July of 2018. Without Marvin’s inspiration and leadership, this treatise would not exist.

I would also like to thank my legal assistant, Janet Corsetti, for her diligence and thoroughness in helping us update the book. In addition, I would like to thank the following partners, attorneys and staff at Russo Law Group, P.C. for all of their assistance, research, and availability: my partners, Eric J. Einhart, Esq.; Marie Elena Puma, Esq.; Frank L. Buquicchio, Esq.; Kim N. Christian, Esq.; and Deanna M. Eble, Esq.; my associates, Joshua R. Berzak, Esq. and Lauren E. Soule, Esq.; and my legal assistants Michelle Y. Byrd and Joanna A. Perez. A very special thank you to Elena Hyman Renner, Melissa Stull, and Suzanne Milliman at West for their guidance and supervision.

Finally, I would like to thank the Elder Law and Special Needs Bar for keeping us on our toes. We welcome your continuing support and input for future editions.

For more information about New York Elder Law and Special Needs Practice, 2019 Edition, and how to order a copy, click the button below.

Join Vincent J. Russo for this Free Educational Seminar and Learn:

  • How to Access Quality Long Term Care
  • How to Pay for Long Term Care
  • How to Protect your Assets and Income
  • What will Happen if you Don’t have a Plan
Date: Jul 17, 2019
Time: 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Location: Borrelli’s Italian Restaurant
1580 Hempstead Tpke
East Meadow, NY 11554

Seating is Limited. Registration Required.

Join us for our upcoming Estate Planning 101 Seminars



Tim has mentored and educated attorneys throughout the country to ensure that seniors and people with disabilities had, and continue to have access to qualified elder law and special needs planning attorneys. We thank Tim for his efforts on behalf of seniors and people with special needs. Naming him this Year’s NAELA Theresa Awards Honoree is the least we can do in return.

NAELA - National Academy of Elder Law AttorneysWashington, DC — The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) is pleased to announce that NAELA Fellow Tim Nay (Portland, Ore.) was named the 2019 recipient of the Theresa Award. The Theresa Awards recognize the outstanding efforts of those individuals who go above and beyond in helping and advocating for people with special needs.

Established in 1992, the Theresa Foundation grants funds for arts, music, dance, and recreational programs to help children with special needs attain the highest level of educational, artistic, emotional, physical, and intellectual achievement possible. The Theresa Foundation was created by NAELA member attorney Vincent J. Russo, CELA, CAP, and his wife, Susan, in honor of their daughter, Theresa, who was born severely disabled and passed away when she was just five and a half years old.

Members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) are attorneys who are experienced and trained in working with the legal problems of aging Americans and individuals of all ages with disabilities. Upon joining, NAELA member attorneys agree to adhere to the NAELA Aspirational Standards. Established in 1987, NAELA is a non-profit association that assists lawyers, bar organizations, and others. The mission of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys is educate, inspire, serve, and provide community to attorneys with practices in elder and special needs law. NAELA currently has members across the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit, or to locate a NAELA member in your area, please visit

Russo Law Group’s staff is proud to support Casual For The Cause

Long Island’s Biggest Dress-Down Day Is Happening Wednesday, May 22, 2019

HR Executives of Long Island: Long Island Cares needs your help to raise $50,000 in one day for Long Islanders in need!  All you have to do is get your favorite pair of shorts out of the closet, put aside five dollars, and ask your employees and colleagues to join you in the largest casual office day on Long Island.

When May 22nd arrives, collect the $5.00 fee from each participating employee (and add your own!) and send it to:

Cheryl Steinhauer, Special Events Manager
Long Island Cares
10 Davids Drive
Hauppauge, NY 11788


More information can be found on their website: 


Do you enjoy friendly competition, supporting a great cause, and golf? 

Join us on Thursday, June 27, 2019, at the North Hills Country Club in Manhasset, New York for the 22nd Annual Swingin’ Fore Theresa Golf Outing!

A schedule of the day’s events and more information can be found here.

Funds raised during this event will allow the Theresa Foundation to provide scholarships for students at the Theresa Academy of Performing Arts (TAPA) for summer camp and respite on the weekends.

Don’t feel like golfing but still want to support the cause?

Join us at the gala reception that same evening (June 27, 2019) at 5:30 pm. During the reception, there will be a chance auction, silent auction, and live auction.

If you are unable to attend, you can also support the Theresa Foundation by donating a gift or basket for any of the auctions, purchasing raffle tickets, or by becoming an event sponsor.

For additional information or to register, click here.

Here at Russo Law Group, you are not just a client, you are family! Did you know that as a client of our firm you can give an immediate family member a “Family Plan” Coupon? We truly consider our client’s family, and our goal is to forge a bond with you and your entire family.  With that in mind, our “Family Plan” coupon is only offered to clients of our firm.  You can offer any immediate family members a coupon for their own comprehensive estate plan!  The coupon entitles your family member to a consultation and six (6) very important documents offered at a discounted, flat fee. Those documents are:


These are the six (6) basic (but essential!) estate planning documents everyone should have.  Recently, one of our clients gave their adult children the family plan coupon as a Christmas gift, which enabled them to plan for their own growing families. This was a valuable gift to them, as this was something that they were putting off due to the everyday challenges of raising a family.


If this is something that you are interested in learning more about, please contact your planning attorney or his or her case manager for a coupon to pass along to a family member.

We look forward to seeing you on Friday!

There is still time to register for the 25th Annual Theresa Awards Dinner.

Each year, the Theresa Foundation hosts the Theresa Awards to recognize the outstanding efforts of individuals who go above and beyond in helping and advocating for those with special needs. The awards are presented at the Annual Theresa Awards Dinner held on the Friday evening closest to Theresa’s birthday. This is the Foundation’s main fundraiser of the year, which enables the Foundation to fund programs in the areas of music, dance, art and recreation.

This year’s event is being held at the Bridgeview Yacht Club in Island Park, NY on Friday, May 3, 2019 at 7:00 pm. We are proud to celebrate the Theresa Award Recipients of the Past 25 Years and Tim Nay, NAELA Theresa Award Recipient.

Help show appreciation toward these deserving honorees by purchasing your tickets to attend the 25th Annual Theresa Awards.  If you are unable to attend, you may click here to support the Theresa Foundation. We are still accepting donations of raffle baskets or restaurant certificates.

For more information, please click here.

Yes, you can get paid through Medicaid as a Family Caregiver to your loved one through a program called “CDPAP” which means Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program. This is a Medicaid-sponsored plan that empowers you to personally choose, evaluate and hire a friend or family member as your caregiver.

Yes, you can get the care from someone you love and trust. The client has to be a qualified Medicaid recipient, must have an ongoing medical condition, must need or require assistance with activities of daily living, and must be able to “self-direct” care or appoint someone to do so.

The person providing the care cannot be a spouse, must be able, must be legally allowed to work in the U.S., and must be able to administer regular, skilled and custodial services. One of the benefits of the CDPAP program is that it enables patients or their designated representatives to allow family or friends to get paid to take care of them.

In the past, when someone required home care health services, or was already having services provided, it was usually through the health agencies or private vendors who would make a majority of the pertinent decisions regarding the patient’s care. This may have included the selection of who the aides providing the service would be, scheduling when these aides would come, and provide those said services and the necessary training for the aides.

According to CDPAP guidelines, either the applicant or the one designated to supervise the applicant’s care, who is called their “designated representative” (“DR”), are the ones that make the healthcare decisions, although it is they who bear all responsibilities (the DR and/or the patient).

The applicant or DR can decide who the aide or Personal Assistant will be, and what schedule will work for both of them. They also will decide which services will be provided by the CDPAP Personal Assistant. The applicant or the DR is responsible for finding the potential Personal Assistant candidate and having them go through the application process.

Although it provides the applicant with the ability to choose nearly anyone they want as the Personal Assistant, it means that they can’t just rely on some pre-organized list of candidates. Training must also be provided to the potential aide, and it is the responsibility once again of the patient or DR to arrange.

Besides for the patient being given the ability to decide who’s hired to provide them with home health care, they are also the one to monitor the one chosen, and if need be, to terminate them as the Personal Assistant.

These actions cannot be implemented by the insurance company or government agency without authorization by the applicant or DR. Remember that, without CDPAP, all of those decisions are primarily, if not entirely, decided by the health care providers and Home Care agencies.

CDPAP aides may do more for the applicant than the classic home care aides who are limited in the tasks and medications that they can administer, CDPAP attendants can do more, some can do actions such as administer Oxygen and injecting insulin into the applicant.

One of the goals of CDPAP is to make home health care more efficient and more enjoyable for the applicant. Medicaid believes that with the applicant or DR calling more of the shots, it will mean less of a turnover on the Personal Assistants providing care, translating therefore into overall better health care for the applicant, therefore also avoiding the need for a nursing home.



Joanna Perez
Russo Law Group, P.C.
100 Quentin Roosevelt Blvd., Suite 102
Garden City, NY 11530



Choosing and working with a law firm can be stressful. Often you don’t know what the process is, what it will cost, and whether the law firm will even be able to help you! To feel confident in your choice, and to know that your confidence is not misplaced, you should look for much more.
Our team of elder law attorneys, estate planning attorneys, and special needs (disability) attorneys have represented the elderly and persons with special needs/disabilities and their families since 1985. In most professional occupations there is no replacement for experience. At Russo Law Group, P.C., our caring and compassionate staff have been involved in literally thousands of cases. Our experience is your protection.
Here are just a few reasons why.

Leaving A Legacy While Enjoying Chocolate and Wine —Leaving A Legacy Event Flyer

Interested in learning more about pooled income trust? Join us for our Leave A Legacy Event!


Theresa Foundation, a Long Island based non-profit organization helping children with special needs.



Theresa Foundation will be holding a “Leaving A Legacy” to raise awareness about the Theresa Foundation Pooled Income Trust. Founder, Vincent J. Russo, Esq. will present to a group of geriatric social workers so that they can make informed decisions for their clients.



To educate social workers on viable options for their clients.



Thursday, April 25th at 6 pm to 8 pm



Russo Law Group, 100 Quentin Roosevelt Blvd., Suite 102, Garden City, NY 11530



Registration is open to all health care professionals.  Sign up here.



Our team of elder law, estate planning and special needs attorneys at Russo Law Group, P.C. have represented the elderly and people with special needs/disabilities since 1985.


We welcome caregivers, families and friends of those with Alzheimer’s/Dementia to join us to share experiences, feelings and information.


During these meeting, you will also learn valuable caregiving information and about available community resources. This month’s speaker is Father Michael Callahan.  He will be teaching the topic of “meditation” as a means for implementing self-care.


If you know of anyone who might benefit from this group, please pass the information on to them.  Pre-registration is a must, please call Janet at (516) 393-3141 or email at [email protected].


Date/Time: April 11, 2019, 12:00-2:00 pm

Where: Russo Law Group, P.C.

100 Quentin Roosevelt Ave. Suite 102

Garden City, NY 11530

Visit the ADRC website for additional information and registration.

The furry friends of Russo Law Group

A seven-year-old girl fighting a rare brain tumor is seeking comfort from four-legged friends around the world.

Emma Mertens of Hartland, Wisconsin is fighting a very rare and inoperable brain tumor called DIPG. She was recently having a normal weekend playing with friends in the snow when she got a headache and started having flu like symptoms. A few days later she was rushed into surgery to reduce swelling on the brain. She has had a second surgery now and is preparing for several weeks of daily radiation therapy. She is a fighter and she and her family along with everyone on Team Emma are here to fight for her.

Russo Law Group is proud to be participating in the effort to help Emma. We have sent pictures of all our team members’ 17 dogs, along with a letter “written” by the dogs. Here is a copy of the dogs’ letter:

Woof, woof, woof, bark, bark, woof… oh, sorry Emma, we forgot you don’t speak dog. We’re all standing here in New York wagging our tails for you. We’d like to play with you but it would be hard for you to throw us a ball all the way from Hartland. We love you and hope you’re having a great spring day.

Your furry, four-legged friends from Russo Law Group,

Brandy, Dakota, Marley, Riley, Sofie, Buffo, Petter, Heidi, Capri, Charleigh, Bitty, Ariel, Belle, Zoey, Rex, John, George


If you want to send a letter from your dog, here is Emma’s postal address and email address:
Emma Mertens
P.O. Box 230
Hartland, WI
[email protected]

Team Emma also needs financial support to make sure Emma receives the care she needs. This support will help Emma’s family with things like medical bills, living expenses, possible clinical trial logistics, and more. The initial goal is to raise an $50,000. By donating, you can help lift the financial burden on Emma’s family so that they can just focus on being present with Emma and her two brothers.

You can see pictures of Emma and follow the fight at

Time: 5:45 PM
Location: Amber Court

We would like to share with our subscribers some important news that was published in Newsday: Suffolk County officials warn of new telephone scam

By Craig Schneider and Joan Gralla
Updated March 7, 2019 9:47 PM

In a case involving a Melville man who fell victim, spoofing software made it appear as if the calls were legitimately coming from the U.S. Social Security Administration.

Fraudsters are employing a new phone scam that displays a caller ID that looks like a legitimate source, whether it’s the U.S. Social Security Administration or PSEG Long Island, officials warned Thursday.

Suffolk County officials are so worried that they held a news conference Thursday to warn people about the new scam. In addition, PSEG Long Island held an informational session Thursday to caution senior citizens, who are often the target of such scams.

Essentially the scam bypasses people’s defenses by displaying what looks like an authentic caller ID. That can lead people to open up to a scammer, and consequently open up their accounts and finances to thieves.

“You can see how sophisticated this is, and how legitimate they seem to people,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “If someone is calling, and they seem to be a real source, do not turn over money without verifying through another source.”

County officials featured one victim’s story.

Wayne Chertoff thought he was scam-proof. His tried-and-true defense: If the phone rings and nothing appears on the caller ID, don’t even answer.

Last week, Chertoff, 67, said he learned the hard way that his defense no longer works. In the process, he lost $1,400.

When the phone rang, the caller ID indicated it was the Social Security Administration and showed a legitimate phone number for the federal agency.

The Melville resident answered, and when all was said and done over the next two days, the hustle had drained him of his savings.

Chertoff, a retiree with a bad back, said he feels he should have known better than to fall for a con game. He used to work as a store detective.

But he said the caller seemed so professional and quickly put him in a state of panic. The caller, a woman, said that his name and Social Security number were linked to accounts in Texas that were sending thousands of dollars to Mexico and Colombia.

An arrest warrant had been issued for him, she added, but she could help him clear it up. She instructed him to go to a drugstore and purchase a $500 gift card. He said he did and gave her the card number over the phone, essentially handing over the money.

The next day, the scammers called again and upped the ante. This time it was a man who called, and he sounded helpful. In the background of the call, Chertoff said he heard what sounded like a room full of operators.

The scammer instructed him to get two more prepaid cards for $900, all to supposedly clear up the mess and protect his money.

“This time around, a … manager at the store said, ‘Do you know what you’re doing?’ ” Chertoff recalled. “I thought I knew what I was doing. I’m not proud right now.”

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said this was the first such telephone scam reported to the county. She said similar scams often target senior citizens, especially around tax time. Now, though, scams occur year-round, she said.

Chertoff said that almost immediately after he made the final payment, he became suspicious and called the police.

“Now I can’t pay my rent, my car insurance, my credit cards,” he said.

The evolving technology of scammers is showing up elsewhere as well.

PSEG Long Island on Thursday brought some cautionary advice to about 30 seniors at the Great South Bay YMCA in Bay Shore. The utility warned people about “PSEG Long Island” popping up on the caller ID.

The seniors also learned to beware of people who show up at their doors wearing clothing with a company brand but lacking the proper identification, said Robert Vessichelli, a senior security investigator with the utility.

Linda Fiveson, who runs two businesses in Syosset, said she nearly felt the sting of a scam in which a caller impersonated a PSEG employee.

The man on the line told her that her payments were past due and that he was preparing to disconnect her service the next day.

“I was so panicked,” said Fiveson, 69, describing the evening call to her office about four months ago.

She offered to deliver payment that moment. He said it was too late. She called up her accounts on her computer and said they had been paid. He said he was in the dispatch office and didn’t have access to those accounts.

She offered to pay by credit card, but he said no. He basically had her begging for a way to resolve this, she said. She was afraid of the embarrassment of her businesses losing power, not to mention the potential for financial losses.

Fiveson runs a nutritional counseling business and a food-preparation company. She has some 16 refrigerators.

Finally, the man said she could resolve the situation with cash. He started to tell her she should go to a drugstore — and then something clicked in her mind. She hung up and called PSEG, and the nightmare ended.

“He gave me just enough time to think,” she said. “I almost went the full distance.”

Beware of evolving scam technology

Scammers are showing an evolving grasp of technology, making it more difficult to spot their flimflams and hustles.

The old defense of screening calls by caller ID may not work now, Suffolk County officials said. Scammers are using spoofing software that allows them to mimic the IDs of legitimate sources.

The Suffolk County Police Department cautioned that that neither government agencies nor utility companies will ask for payment of fees, fines or bills via prepaid gift cards.

Caution and skepticism are some of the best defenses. Use a utility’s website to check whether any bill is overdue.

PSEG Long Island cautions customers to beware of emails that appear to be bills from the utility. These emails request personal information, leading to identity theft.