Individuals who are eligible for Supplement Security Income, also known as SSI, are subject to income and assets limits. Recipients cant own more than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 if they are married). We frequently get calls from SSI recipients asking us how they can protect their SSI benefits when comes into money, usually from an inheritance or a personal injury settlement. If the recipient is under the age of 65, then a first party supplemental needs trust (“SNT”) may be a good option.
The basic design of a supplemental needs trust (sometimes known as a special needs trust) is that a beneficiary can still receive the benefit of their assets or income, without giving up their eligibility for any needs-based government benefit or assistance they might otherwise receive. Using a first party SNT will not affect any benefits a person receives that are not based on an income limitation or resource level.
The beneficiary can work with a special needs attorney to set up the trust and appoint someone, called the trustee, to hold the money on his or her half. The trustee of the trust must be someone other than the disabled beneficiary. The trustee is given the discretion to make payments from the trust’s assets for the benefit of the disabled beneficiary. The trustee’s discretion is limited to making payments for any purpose other than those that could be provided for by government benefits. The basic idea is that the supplemental needs trust is meant to supplement the disabled person’s government benefits, but not replace them. The trust could pay for any special equipment needed for the person’s care that a government program will not cover or for expenses such as sports games or travel.
This type of trust is available for any disabled person under age 65. This means that it can be established and funded until the beneficiary reaches age 65, and any assets accumulated in the trust before then may be used for the rest of the beneficiary’s life. The catch is that this type of trust must also include a provision that provides that upon the death of the beneficiary, the social services agency will be paid back for the cost of any care the program expended on behalf of the disabled person’s benefit during their lifetime.
If you are about to receive and inheritance or a personal injury settlement, it is important to speak to a special needs trust attorney before you receive the money. Feel free to call our office for free consultation at 347-766-2685. Please call the Law Offices of Roman Aminov, P.C. at 347-766-2685 to discuss the type of guardianship that is right for your loved one. Our experienced and compassionate Queens, NY based estate attorneys will guide you through the process from start to finish.
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