patrick_farber_deciphering_special_needs_trust_eligilbilityWill Lindahl, Executive Director of CPT Special Needs Trusts, provides some clarification on Individual Special Needs Trusts and Pooled Special Needs Trusts. It’s a complex subject and this just scratches the surface, but I thought it might be helpful.

What is the difference between a Pooled Special Needs Trust (SNT) versus an Individual Special Needs Trust?
All SNTs, Individual or Pooled, protect eligibility for SSI and Medicaid. The primary difference is that a Pooled SNT can be established by the individual at any age. With an Individual SNT, the client must be under the age of 65 and the trust has to be established by a living parent, grandparent, guardian/conservator or a court.

My client does not know what benefits they receive. How can I find out?
Clients can visit their local SSA office and request a summary of benefits they are receiving.

My client has Medicaid. Do they need an SNT?
It depends. An SNT would be necessary to preserve Traditional Medicaid, but not necessary for Expanded Medicaid (unless person is close to age 65). If a client is disabled, unable to work and has assets below $2,000, it is expected that they would only qualify for Traditional Medicaid (and need an SNT to preserve eligibility).

Expanded Medicaid is available for individuals with low income. There is no asset test. However, Expanded Medicaid terminates at age 65 so a person who is close to that age may want to consider using an SNT if they will need Traditional Medicaid at age 65.

My client has SSI. Do they need an SNT?
Yes. SSI is a needs-based program, meaning that only someone with less than $2,000 of countable assets and minimal income can qualify. Placing assets in an SNT will preserve eligibility for SSI. If the client is over age 65, there is a potential loss of three years of SSI before SSI is reinstated.

My client has Medicaid and SSI with a Medical Set-Aside (MSA). Do they need an SNT?
Yes, the client needs to protect SSI and Medicaid payments. A MSA is a countable asset according to SSA rules. If a MSA account is set up inside of a SNT, it will not jeopardize SSI or Medicaid.

Feel free to contact us at our trust setup line 855-276-7681, with questions about SNTs.


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