Government Sets Obstacle for the Disabled

Earlier this year, the Social Security Administration released a substantial revision to its Program Operations Manual System (POMS) which has a dramatic impact upon those who are classified as disabled and receive needs based government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and Section 8 Housing.  Specifically, POMS SI 01120.201 has been modified to make two changes.  First, it states that Special Needs Trusts cannot allow for payment of travel expenses for family members to visit the trust beneficiary.  Second, it is reviewing language in trusts that permit the payment of caregivers, including family members, and will soon require that the caregivers be “medically certified, medically trained or approved to provide care.”

It appears that the provisions may apply only to First Party Special Needs Trusts which are those typically established as a result of a personal injury action as such trusts are meant to be for the “sole benefit” of the disabled individual.  Third Party Special Needs Trusts, which are those typically established by the estate plans of families with disabled children, appear to be exempt.

In all, if you have a Special Needs Trust, you should have it reviewed by competent counsel to insure that it complies with current law.

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