A special needs trust is a vehicle specially designed to hold assets on behalf of a disabled individual in a manner that will benefit the individual without jeopardizing their eligibility for state or other government aid. Such trusts allow a person to receive benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid, all while continuing to have a source of funds to pay for goods and services not covered by government programs. Common examples of items meant to enhance the quality of life of a disabled individual, but are not covered may include things like specially equipped vans with lifts, certain medical procedures, travel to visit relatives, various types of school and entertainment.
Trust vehicles may include:
Settlement Protection Trust
- Settlement protection trusts provide claimants with spendthrift protected taxable or tax-free payments as well as liquidity and flexibility. They are especially useful when the timing or amount of a claimant’s future needs are unpredictable or event contingent.
Special Needs Trust
- A special needs trust is used to preserve a claimant’s SSI and Medicaid eligibility.
Medicare Set-Aside Trust
- A Medicare set-aside trust is used in certain categories of worker’s compensation and personal injury settlements to set aside money for future medical expenses which would otherwise be covered by Medicare.
With regards to structured settlements, financial firms who support clients who have won a settlement awards tend to specialize in only one product (Structured Annuities). We believe this single product emphasis is inadequate for most beneficiaries as well as their families and tends to exclude a balanced plan, designed to financially support a plaintiff for the rest of his or her lifetime.
Our total planning process helps beneficiaries and their families:
- Understand the impact of private insurance versus public benefits on a trust and the associated restrictions.
- Navigate the complex rules surrounding government benefits and eligibility guidelines enabling them to maintain public assistance.
- Meet cash flow needs now and into the future.
- Add to the richness of life by using trust assets for education and recreation, as well as other life enhancements.
Our day-to-day special needs trust services include, but are not limited to:
- Supervising all aspects of the trust and at all times acting in the beneficiary’s best interests;
- Offering a line of defense against undue influence from existing friends or family, outside caregivers, and new friends who may suddenly appear once a trust is funded;
- Abiding by the terms of the trust and reviewing each distribution against a standard of “reasonableness”;
- Taking custody of cash, maintaining transactional records for receipts and disbursements, preparing tax letters and tax returns for the trust, issuing account statements and providing accountings as required by the court as well as other outside authorities;
- Monitoring and reviewing the performance of the investment manager and making changes that are in the best interests of the beneficiary;
- Coordinating the payment of bills and expenses, and taking charge to follow through on implementing many of the services outlined in a care plan for the beneficiary;
- Maintaining relationships with other service providers in an effort to contain costs, including public benefit agencies and medical cost containment companies;
- Determining if it is necessary to purchase a vehicle or house and identifying the specific needs as well as coordinating the purchase;
- Coordinating payroll for caregivers recommended by a case manager, if such services are not provided by a private agency or Medicaid; and
- Supporting the implementation of recommendations made by a case manager to enable the beneficiary to receive the highest quality of care.