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by Abigail Van Buren

Planned Retirement Changes Future for Disabled Brother

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 65-year-old woman with a younger brother who is 63 and physically, mentally and emotionally disabled. He's deaf, reads at a fourth-grade level and can do math only at a second-grade level. He has paranoia, and because of that, he can't work with other people. He receives disability payments, but they are only a small amount of money.

My husband and I have had successful careers and are comfortable financially. For many years, we have helped my brother by paying some of his bills, but my retirement next year will make this harder to do. How much do I owe this sibling? If he can't afford to stay in his apartment, he would wind up living with us or homeless. -- FEARING THE FUTURE

DEAR FEARING: You are a wonderful sister. I am sorry your parents didn't provide for what might happen to their son after their deaths.

Start doing some research and explore what all of the options may be. Go online and look for "services for the disabled." Contact the department of mental health in your state and inquire about what options are available for your mentally ill sibling. Follow it up by scheduling an appointment with a social worker. You can find one by contacting your county department of mental health or a local hospital because there's usually at least one on staff. If your brother can possibly live independently without your financial support, it might be the better option for all of you.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Money | Aging | Mental Health