A Special Needs Trust (SNT), also sometimes referred to as Supplemental Needs Trust, is a type of trust used to provide supplemental benefits to individuals with disabilities without disqualifying them for government benefits such as Medicaid and SSI. A SNT pays for goods and services that government benefits do not otherwise provide for.
Examples of common expenses a trustee of a SNT pays for include:
- Medication and medical equipment not covered by Medicare or Medicaid
- Insurance premiums (health, life, dental, auto, renter’s, etc.)
- Personal assistance
- Job coaching
- Home renovations to improve accessibility
- Private counseling or case management
- Entertainment or recreation tickets
- Furniture and home appliances
- School or camp tuition
- Telephone service and Internet access
The items on this list are not exhaustive but rather illustrative as a SNT can pay for many items on the beneficiary’s behalf to increase their quality of life.
Basic needs such as food and shelter can be paid for form the SNT but may result in a reduction of the amount of SSI benefits received by the beneficiary and careful analysis is required.
It is important for a trustee to use discretion in making distributions and consult regularly with an attorney experienced in special needs planning to make sure the trust is being administered properly, the beneficiary’s needs are being met and government benefits are maintained.