Helping To Ensure Continuity Of Public Benefits With Special Needs Trusts

Special Needs Trusts are designed to supplement the public benefits, namely Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Section 8 Housing, received by disabled adults. Public benefits typically provide only for a disabled person's minimum necessities. A properly drafted supplemental needs trust can preserve assets for a disabled adult and greatly increase and enhance the quality of life of an individual with a disability and limited resources.

Public Benefit Requirements And Limitations

Eligibility for public assistance programs generally requires that an individual be disabled as defined by the Social Security Administration and have very limited resources: usually less than $2,000. If an individual who receives public benefits holds resources in excess of $2,000, his or her eligibility for public benefits may be jeopardized.

A properly drafted Special Needs Trust - also referred to as a Supplemental Needs Trust - allows a disabled individual to receive the benefit of trust assets that supplement but do not supplant public benefits, allowing the individual to remain eligible for public benefits. At EDLC, our lawyers work with families to maximize a loved one's benefits from a Special Needs Trust, while also maintaining eligibility for public benefits such as Medicaid or SSI.

What A Special Needs Trust Can Do

A Special Needs Trust can pay for supplemental care that is not provided by public benefits, including: housekeeping; telephone service; personal items; entertainment; personal services; repairs and maintenance; disability/geriatric case management evaluation and services; luxuries; training; education; outings; vacations; fuel; travel and transportation; vehicles; costs to make vehicles and facilities accessible; funeral and burial and dental care.

Types Of Special Needs Trusts

There are different types of Special Needs Trusts. The two main types are: 1) a trust created with resources of the disabled individual generally known as a First Party Special Needs Trust, and 2) a Special Needs Trust created with a third-party's money, usually from a parent's, child's, or grandparent's resources.

A Pooled Special Needs Trust can be utilized for a disabled individual's resources. A pooled trust is generally established and run by a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the disabled community. The pooled trust combines the resources of disabled individuals for ease of management and administration of funds. The disabled individual has a separate account, but the assets are combined and invested together. Some Pooled Special Needs Trusts are First-Party Trusts, and others are Third-Party Trusts.

Selecting the appropriate type of Special Needs Trust, as well as understanding the administrative and reporting requirements, can be a daunting task. On the other hand, it is a very effective tool for enhancing the life of an individual with a disability.

Contact EDLC for either a one-time consultation or comprehensive representation to help you establish a Special Needs Trust.

Send us an email or call us toll free at 866-399-4324 or locally at 202-452-0000.