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Who Qualifies for a Special Needs Trust?

Special Needs 2

A special needs trust can provide peace of mind for families caring for a loved one with a disability. For some people with a disability, a special needs trust is just one way their lives may be enhanced. A special needs trust works by maximizing the resources available to them. While it preserves eligibility for programs like Medicaid and Supplementary Security Income (SSI), it may also help pay for quality of life things that will make life better for the disabled person. Below we will take a look at who qualifies for a special needs trust, and how the process works.

Who Qualifies

The people most likely to qualify for a special needs trust are those who will be dependent on SSI and Medicaid throughout their lives, due to a severe or permanent disabling condition. Not everyone with a disability meets the criteria for SSI, Medicaid, or a special needs trust. In some cases, a person deemed to have a disability can still earn a living, and therefore does not need to partake in these services. 

Some disabilities, however, are almost automatic for these services, and therefore, a special needs trust. They include people with blindness, developmental disabilities, Down syndrome, organic brain damage, chronic mental illness, physical paralysis (paraplegia), or congenital disabling afflictions such as cerebral palsy or cystic fibrosis. 

The Rules of a Special Needs Trust

There are rules in place on how a trustee can spend money for a beneficiary, as the beneficiary usually cannot be given cash, as it may interfere with eligibility for government programs. However, the following may be purchased for the beneficiary: personal care attendants, vacations, home furnishings, out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses, education, recreation, vehicles, and physical rehabilitation.

With some disabilities, it is hard to know if the person will be forever disabled, or if it is a temporary affliction. Even in these cases, when applicable, a special needs trust can still be arranged, and dissolved by the trustee if no longer needed, depending on how it would benefit the beneficiary. 

For some people, they may be well now, but are suffering a degenerative disease that may make a special needs trust necessary down the road. In these cases, some guesswork may be involved. However, if there seems to be evidence that the person will need government assistance in the form of SSI or Medicaid, setting up a special needs trust may be worth it. Again, it can be terminated by the trustee should it be deemed unnecessary in the future. 

A special needs trust may also be good for someone who may not need government programs like SSI and Medicaid, but may have issues handling money. For instance, if a person receives an inheritance, and will have trouble managing it, a special needs trust will help by entrusting the management of the money in the hands of presumably wise trustee. This will keep the assets out of the hands of the beneficiary and their creditors. 

In cases where a person might be victimized for the money they have, a special needs trust can be used to help prevent that from happening. Unfortunately, there are people who will target someone with a mental or physical disability, and try to take their assets for themselves. The special needs trust prevents that by taking the money out of the hands of the disabled person, thereby eliminating the threat from unscrupulous operators. 

There are rules to follow when creating a special needs trust, and the advice of an experienced special needs planning attorney at The Mattar Firm can help. Remember, the goal of a special needs trust is to protect your loved ones, and provide for them the best life possible. In that regard, you should take every possible step to ensure the best outcome possible. Protecting your family member from predators, and helping them manage larger amounts of money and assets are benevolent goals, and a special needs trust can help you get there. 

Contact The Mattar Firm

At The Mattar Firm, our experienced special needs planning attorneys can guide you through the process of establishing a special needs trust. Contact our special needs planning attorneys today, 239-222-2222.

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