Valerie Powers Smith

Palm Springs Special Needs Trust Attorney Valerie Powers

Slovak Baron Empey Murphy & Pinkney LLP
103 Carnegie Center Blvd.; Ste. 300
Princeton, New Jersey 08540
Telephone: 609-955-3393
Fax: 609-520-8731

Slovak Baron Empey Murphy & Pinkney LLP
1800 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way
Palm Springs, California 92262
Telephone: 760.322.2275
Fax: 760.322.2107
Email: powers@sbemp.com

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Valerie Powers Smith is of counsel to Slovak Baron Empey Murphy & Pinkney LLP with offices in both Palm Springs and Princeton, NJ. She has sixteen years of experience in the field of special needs and disability law including the following highly specialized practice areas: health care insurance, short-term and long-term disability insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, special needs trusts, trust administration, estate planning & administration, guardianships, and accessing federal and state government disability-based benefits.

Over the years, Valerie has concentrated her legal work in the area of health care law and has vigorously advocated for families and people with disabilities to gain medically necessary care from private insurance companies, Medicaid, Medicare, and other health insurance providers. She has additionally focused her practice in the areas of special needs trusts and estate planning and routinely advise families, executors, and corporate trustees on the area of special needs law and the administration of the same.

Valerie has written extensively on a variety of disability law topics, has co-authored several publications on accessing adult services, Medicaid, and health insurance; and is a regular contributor to several newsletters of disability-based advocacy organizations throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California. She has also lectured for disability-related groups throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California, and D.C since 1997.

NOTABLE ENGAGEMENTS

The following are examples of matters that Valerie has handled and corporate clients she serves:

  • Outside legal counsel for BNY Mellon, N.A., administration of special needs trusts and estates of deceased trust beneficiaries
  • Legal counsel to Garden State Trust Company for administration of special needs trusts
  • Outside legal counsel for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, administration of special needs trusts
  • Legal counsel to Sterling Care Group, Inc., for administration of special needs trusts
  • Legal counsel to Horizon Pediatric Systems regarding pediatric medical day care services and Medicaid funding issues
  • Prepared and filed hundreds of annual special needs trust accountings for corporate trustee clients
  • Successfully argued in the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law on a variety of cases in litigation to overturn the New Jersey Division of Medical Assistance & Health Services’ (DMAHS) denial of eligibility for the EPSDT/PDN Program; as well as, reduction of private duty nursing hours
  • Successfully argued in the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law to restore a young woman’s Medicaid eligibility through the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities’ (DDD) Medicaid-funded Community Care Waiver (CCW)
  • Successfully overturned numerous decisions by private health insurance companies to deny coverage for durable medical equipment, therapy services, and private duty nursing services to children with multiple medical conditions and special needs.
  • Secured reformation in the Superior Court of California’s and New Jersey’s Probate Part of many improperly drafted trusts and other instruments that would have made the beneficiaries ineligible for SSI and Medicaid and eventually exposed the assets to government recoupment.
  • Represented hundreds of families with special needs in Superior Court of New Jersey’s Probate Part and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to obtain guardianship over the person and property over their adult child with special needs, and has done the same in California with regard to conservatorship
  • Prepared estate plans and special needs trusts for hundreds of families to meet their family’s individual special needs
  • Represented Executors (individual and corporate) in the probate and administration of an Estate
  • Assisted individuals and families with special needs to access disability-based state and federal governmental benefits
  • Represented several individuals in continuing their long-term disability coverage due to the severity of their disability
  • Successfully argued for numerous individuals for eligibility for and services from the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD)
  • Petitioned the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities to promulgate regulations for its Medicaid-funded Community Care Waiver (Feb. 2008)
  • Successfully argued in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, the improper termination of a young man’s private duty nursing services by the State of New Jersey and VNA
  • Successfully obtained healthcare coverage for a profoundly disabled 8 year old girl from her father’s employer provided insurance company
  • Assisted Executive Director, New Jersey Protection & Advocacy, Inc., in legislative drafting and implementation of the Health Care Consumer Assistance Program (HCCAP) in New Jersey
  • Assisted The Honorable Edward J. Bradley, Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania researching and writing civil appellate decisions; and reviewing evidence and rendering decisions at the criminal trial level
  • Assisted Margaret Farrell, Esq. in the development of poverty law textbook, Special Masters litigation in D.C., and development of law school course materials (Sept. 1995-May 1997)
  • Developed procedures for obtaining informed consent for blood transfusions for implementation and a variety of in-house issues at Grand View Hospital, Pennsylvania (1995)

PUBLICATIONS

  • Author, “Understanding the Health Insurance System: What You & Special Needs Families Should Know” (October 2011)
  • Author, “Federal Health Insurance Reform” (October 2011)
  • Author, “The Many Faces of New Jersey Medicaid” (October 2011)
  • Author, “New Jersey Medicaid Managed Care: Mandatory Enrollment” (October 2011)
  • Author, “Services Available Under the N.J. Medicaid State Plan” (October 2011)
  • Author, “The New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities” (October 2011)
  • Author, “The New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities’ Amended Community Care Waiver” (October 2011)
  • Author, “Social Security Administration Benefits Available for People with Disabilities” (October 2011)
  • Author, “Estate Planning & Guardianship for Families with Special Needs” (October 2011)
  • Author, “Special Needs Trusts: Special legal considerations for the family and personal injury & divorce attorneys when there is an individual with disabilities”, The Public Record (Aug. 9, 2011)
  • Author, “Estate Planning & Guardianship for Families with Special Needs”, Easter Seals of Southeastern Pennsylvania (Dec. 2010)
  • Author, “A Lifetime of Advocacy: What Individuals and Families Living with Turner Syndrome Need to Know,” Turner Syndrome Foundation, Inc. & Slovak Baron Empey Murphy & Pinkney LLP booklet publication (First Edition, Oct. 2010)
  • Author, “Federal Health Insurance Reform: A Preliminary Overview” (September 2010)
  • Contributing Author & Editor, “Health Care Resources: Access & Funding for Autism, An Informational Guide for Families,” Autism New Jersey (Fall 2010)
  • Author, “Social Security Administration Benefits Available for People with Disabilities,” News from Autism Family Services of NJ (Vol. 3, Issue 7, Aug. 2010)
  • Author, “Guardianship & Estate Planning,”, handout, Desert Friends of the Developmentally Disabled (June 2010)
  • Author, “What is a “Developmental Disability” Under the Recent NJ Health Insurance Mandate for the Treatment of Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities?,” News from Autism Family Services of NJ (Vol. 3, Issue 5, June 2010)
  • Author, “Guardianship,” Spina Bifida Resource Network (May 2010).
  • Author, “Future Planning Considerations for Families with Special Needs,” (May 2010)
  • Author, “News from Autism Family Services of NJ (May 2010)
  • Author, “An Update on The New Jersey Insurance Reform Act,” News from Autism Family Services of NJ (Vol. 3, Issue 4, May 2010)
  • Author, “The Insurance Reform Act” (May 2010)
  • Author, “The New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities’ Amended Community Care Waiver,” Healthy Times, The Arc of New Jersey (Vol. 21, No. 2, Winter 2010)
  • Author, “Trust Administration: A Vital Consideration,” Disability & the Law (Vol. 6, No. 6, Dec. 2009)
  • Co-Author, Major Changes to the Real Life Choices Program, Disability & the Law (Vol. 6, No. 2, April 2009)
  • Author, “Exploring Benefits from the Social Security Administration for People with Disabilities,” Disability & the Law (Vol. 6, No. 1, Feb. 2009)
  • Co-Author., “Health Care Advocacy Across the Lifespan: What Parents of Children with Disabilities Need to Know,” Family Voices of New Jersey (First Edition, 2009)
  • Co-Author, “Medicaid and Its Important Role in Funding Services and Supports for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” Autism New Jersey
  • Author, “Coverage of Autism-Related Services in Pennsylvania,” Disability & the Law (Vol. 5, No. 4, Oct. 2008)
  • Author, “Maximize the Value of Your Special Needs Trust by Ensuring Professional Oversight,” Disability & the Law (Vol. 5, No. 4, Oct. 2008)
  • Co-Author, “Helping a Grandchild with a Disability,” Healthy Times, The Arc of New Jersey (Vol. 20, No. 1, Summer 2008)
  • Co-Author, “What Can Grandparents Do? How Proper Planning Can Help Your Grandchild with a Disability,” (2008)
  • Co-Author, “Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Guide to Services in New Jersey,” COSAC (Third Edition, 2008; Second Edition, 2006; and First Edition, 2005)
  • Co-Author, “Planning for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Legal Considerations for Siblings and Other Caregivers in Pennsylvania,” (2008)
  • Author, “What Social Security Administration Benefits are Available for People with Disabilities?,” Healthy Times, The Arc of NJ (Fall 2007-Winter 2008)
  • Author, “Recent Appeal Won Against the State Health Benefits Commission” (March 2007)
  • Co-Author, “A Guide to Community-Based Services and Supports for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities,” The Arc of New Jersey (Feb. 2007)
  • Author, “New Jersey Medicaid,” Healthy Times, The Arc of NJ (Vol. 18, No. 2, Fall 2006-Winter 2007)
  • Co-Author, “Adults with Autism: The COSAC Guide to Services and Supports in New Jersey” (Second Edition, May 2006)
  • Author, “Types of Health Care Coverage & Coordination of Coverage,” Healthy Times, The Arc of NJ (Vol. 17, No. 2, Fall/Winter 2005-2006)
  • Author, “Understanding Your Health Care Insurance & Appeal Rights: A Guide for Parents of Children with Intellectual Disabilities,” Special Olympics New Jersey (2005)
  • Co-Author, “Changes in the Laws Governing Financial Liability & Institutional Liens for Persons Treated at State and County Psychiatric Facilities” (2005)
  • Author, “Changes in the Law for Mental Health In-Patient Treatment: Who Can Authorize, Child or Parent” (2005)
  • Contributing Commentator, “Legal Considerations in Planning for People with Special Needs: A Guide for Siblings and other Decision-Makers,” Planned Lifetime Assistance Network of New Jersey
  • Co-Author, “Medicaid and Its Important Role in Funding Services and Supports for Individuals with Autism,” The New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community (COSAC)
  • Author, “Role of Medicaid Funding for DDD Clients Residing at Home” (Nov. 2005)
  • Co-Author, “Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services and Appeal Rights,” Healthy Times, The Arc of NJ (Vol. 17, No. 1, Spring/Summer 2005)
  • Co-Author, “Disability and the Law: Termination of Life Sustaining Treatment” (2005)
  • Co-Author, “Disability and the Law: Changes Involving SSI” (2005)
  • Author, “Overview of Health Care Issues” (2004/2005)
  • Author, “Medicaid’s Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment Program,” Healthy Times, The Arc of NJ (Vol. 16, No. 2, Fall-Winter 2004/2005)
  • Author, “Real Life Choices & The Medicaid-funded Community Care Waiver (CCW)” (Nov. 2004)
  • Co-Author, “To Your Health: Your Consumer Rights in Managed Health Care,” A Publication of the Managed Health Care Consumer Assistance Program, a program of New Jersey Protection & Advocacy, Inc. and Community Health Law Project (2001)
  • Author, “Grievance and Appeal Rights: Medicaid Managed Care,” MCCAP Fact Sheet (2001)
  • Author, “Grievance and Appeal Rights: Medicare Managed Care,” MCCAP Fact Sheet (2001)
  • Author, “Grievance and Appeal Rights: Private Insurance,” MCCAP Fact Sheet (2001)
  • Author, “Overview of Grievance and Appeal Rights,” MCCAP Fact Sheet (2001)
  • Author, “Overview of Healthcare Issues,” MCCAP Fact Sheet (2001)
  • Author, “Medicaid Managed Care & Due Process,” MCCAP Fact Sheets (10 part series, 2001)
  • Author, “Medicare & Medigap Basics,” MCCAP Fact Sheets (2001)
  • Author, “Medicare Appeal Rights,” MCCAP Fact Sheets (2001)
  • Author, “Appeals & Complaints,” MCCAP Fact Sheets (2001)
  • Author, “Managed Care: Overview of Grievance and Appeal Rights,” (2000)
  • Savings & Loan article published in National New Jersey Common Cause magazine, prepared and published while intern at New Jersey Common Cause (1993)

TEACHING AND SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS

  • Presenter, “Estate Planning Considerations” 9 Part Series, (June 2013 – March 2014)
  • Presenter, “Estate Planning discussion with Marshall Gilbert,” Money Radio appearance, Palm Desert, CA (June 13, 2013)
  • Presenter, “Estate Planning discussion with Steve Kelley,” radio appearance, Palm Springs, CA (May 31, 2013)
  • Presenter, “Estate Planning Considerations for the Special Needs Family,” Bank of California, Indian Wells, CA (May 2013)
  • Presenter, “Regular monthly radio appearances,” The Joey English radio show”, Palm Springs, CA (2013)
  • Presenter, “Special Needs Considerations,” Eye of the Desert television appearance, Palm Desert, CA (November 27, 2013)
  • Presenter, “Autism Mandate under New State Healthcare Insurance Laws,” Desert Sands Unified School District, Indio, CA (November 8, 2012)
  • Presenter, “Estate Planning Considerations for the Special Needs Family,” Easter Seals of SE PA, Bucks County, PA (October 30, 2012)
  • Presenter, “Special Needs Trust,” Morgan Stanley’s Art of Finance, Palm Desert, CA (October 11, 2012)
  • Presenter, “Special Needs Trust and Estate Planning for Special Needs,” Desert Palm Legal Professionals Association, Palm Desert, CA (September 11, 2012)
  • Presenter, “Navigating the Healthcare System,” ASPEN Spring Conference, Iselin, NJ (April 29, 2012)
  • Presenter, “Special Needs Trust and Estate Planning,” Desert Arc, Palm Desert, CA (April 11, 2012)
  • Presenter, “Special Needs Trust,” Desert Estate Planning Council, Indian Wells, CA (March 13, 2012)
  • “Caregivers and patients as informed advocates: Know your rights – 3-part Webinar on health insurance, Medicaid, SSA benefits, estate planning, special needs trusts, and guardianship” (April 4, May 2, and June 2, 2012)
  • “Special Needs Trusts,” Desert Estate Planning Council (March 13, 2012)
  • “Special Needs Trusts: Special Considerations for the Family Law Attorney when Divorce Involves a Family Member with Special Needs,” The State Bar of California, The Family Law Section (February 21, 2012)
  • Presenter, “Advocacy Across the Lifespan: What Caregivers Need to Know,” National Caregivers Conference (October 2011)
  • Presenter, “The New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities,” Crossroads of a Disability Practice, Camden County Bar Association (October 2011)
  • Presenter, “Health Care Advocacy Across the Lifespan,” Annual Autism New Jersey/COSAC Conference (October 2011)
  • Presenter, “Estate Planning & Guardianship for Families with Special Needs,” Easter Seals of Southeastern PA (October 2011)
  • Presenter, “A Lifetime of Advocacy: What Individuals and Families Living with Turner Syndrome Need to Know,” World Congress on Disabilities (September 2011)
  • Presenter, “Health Care Advocacy Across the Lifespan”, SPAN, Passaic County Clifton Public Library (May 2011)
  • Presenter, “Future Planning: Trust and Estate Planning,” Easter Seals of Southeastern PA (November 2010)
  • Presenter, “A Lifetime of Advocacy: What Individuals and Families Living with Turner Syndrome Need to Know,” Annual conference, Turner Syndrome Foundation, Inc. (October 2010)
  • Presenter, “NJ Health Insurance Autism Mandate,” Regina Burch (October 2010)
  • Presenter, Annual Conference, Autism New Jersey (October 2010)
  • Presenter, “Health Care Advocacy,” Family Voices & SPAN 2-part lecture series (October 2010)
  • Presenter, National Caregivers Annual Conference (October 2010)
  • Co-Presenter, Robert Wood Johnson Health Care Lecture 21-part Series for Autism New Jersey (September-October 2010)
  • Presenter, “Estate Planning & Special Needs Trusts,” Lecture for the Desert Friends of the Developmentally Disabled (June 2010)
  • Presenter, “Health Care Advocacy,” Family Voices & SPAN 2-part lecture series (April-May 2010)
  • Presenter, “NJ Health Insurance Reform,” Autism Family Services of New Jersey (May 2010)
  • Presenter, “Health Care Advocacy,” Easter Seals of Southeastern PA (May 2010)
  • Presenter, Teleconference series, Spina Bifida Association (May 2010)
  • Presenter, Health Care 3-Part Lecture Series, Autism New Jersey (Spring 2009)
  • Presenter, Annual Conference, Autism New Jersey (October 2009)
  • Presenter, 20th Annual Conference on Medical Care for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, June 2009
  • Presenter, National Caregivers Annual Conference (2008)
  • Presenter, 19th Annual Conference on Medical Care for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, June 2008
  • Co-Presenter, “Health Care Insurance, Medicaid & Waiver Services through the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD),” 2008 Annual Conference, COSAC (May 2008)
  • Presenter, Health Care 3-Part Lecture Series, COSAC (Spring 2008)
  • Presenter, “Medicaid, Medicare & SSI,” United Cerebral Palsy, NJ (2008)
  • Presenter, “Understanding Medicaid,” Gateway School, NJ (2008)
  • Presenter, “Guardianship & Estate Planning,” Special Olympics of NJ (2008)
  • Presenter, “Estate Planning,” Bright Beginnings Learning Center, NJ (2008)
  • Presenter, “Understanding Medicaid, SSI and other Important Entitlements,” Arc of Somerset County, NJ (2008)
  • Presenter, “Lifespan Approach to Health Care Advocacy,” Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers, NJ (2008)
  • Presenter, “Understanding the Role of Medicaid, Social Security & Private Insurance in the Lives of People with Developmental Disabilities,” Phoenixville, PA (2008)
  • Presenter, “Healthcare, Medicaid & Other Entitlements,” JCC, NJ (2008)
  • Presenter, 18th Annual Conference on Medical Care for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, June 2007
  • Presenter, Health Care 3-Part Lecture Series, COSAC (Spring 2007)
  • Co-Presenter, “Health Care Insurance, Medicaid & Waiver Services through the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD),” 2007 Annual Conference, COSAC (May 2007)
  • Presenter, 17th Annual Conference on Medical Care for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, June 2006
  • Presenter, “Guardianship and Estate Planning,” Matheny Medical and Educational Center (November 2006)
  • Presenter, “Understanding Your Health Coverage,” 2006 Annual Conference, COSAC (May 2006)
  • Presenter, “Insurance Issues,” Jewish Education Association Center for Special Education (April 2006)
  • Presenter, “Guardianship & Financial Considerations: What Parents Need to Know,” The Down Syndrome Support Group of NW New Jersey (March 2006)
  • Presenter, “Understanding Your Health Care Coverage: What Parents Need to Know,” SPAN Conference (April 2005)
  • Presenter, Cross-Disability Teleconference Series, Spina Bifida Association of the Tri-State Region (2004)
  • Assisted in development of course materials on Health Care Regulation at Widener University School of Law (1997)

EDUCATION

  • Widener University School of Law, J.D. (1997), Dean’s List
  • Rider University, B.A., English-literature (major); Political Science (minor), Baccalaureate Honors, Dean’s List (1994)

ADMITTED TO PRACTICE

  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court (1998)
  • New Jersey Supreme Court (1998)
  • United States District Courts, New Jersey (1999)
  • United States District Courts, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (2000),
  • United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit (2002)
  • State of California (2011)
  • State of New York (2011)

AFFILIATIONS & ACTIVITIES

  • The State Bar of California
  • The State Bar of New Jersey
  • The State Bar of New York
  • The State Bar of Pennsylvania
  • American Bar Association
  • The Warren Slaughter-Richard Roemer Inn of Court, California
  • Board of Directors, Easter Seals of Southeastern Pennsylvania
  • Board of Directors, Caregivers of New Jersey
  • Advisory Board Member, Family Voices of New Jersey
  • Advisory Board Member, Autism Family Services of New Jersey
  • National legal consultant, MITO Action
  • National legal advisor, Turner Syndrome Foundation, Inc.
  • Governor appointment, New Jersey’s Medical Assistance Advisory Council (1997-2013)
  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)
  • Real Property, Estate & Trust section of the ABA
  • Desert Estate Planning Council
  • Women’s Leadership Forum
  • College of the Desert (COD)’s Board, Planned Giving Council (2013)
  • Board of Directors, Desert Arc
  • NAELA, Advocacy/Litigation Steering Committee

NOTABLE CHARITABLE ACTIVITIES

  • Co-Creator & Co-Chair, Couture to Procure, charitable couture auction benefiting the Desert Friends of the Developmentally Disabled, We Care Dental Program. (2010)
  • Co-Creator & Co-Chair, Haute4Help, a couture fashion show & live auction charitable event to benefit local charities. (2011-present)
  • President’s Council, Easter Seals of Southeastern Pennsylvania (2010-present)
  • 100 Women, Desert AIDS Project
  • DIVA Sponsor, El Paseo Fashion Week (2012, 2013)
  • Heart Association
  • Desert AIDS Project’s 3rd Annual Dancing with the Desert Stars (Nov. 2013)

Contact Our Palm Springs Special Needs Lawyer

Call Valerie Powers Smith, SBEMP’s top-notch Palm Springs special needs trust attorney, at (760) 322-2275 to set up a consultation.