None of the information herein is intended to be legal advice, you should consult your own attorney before executing any legal documents.
What can a Pooled Special Needs Trust do for you?
When you have a properly created trust, you can keep your settlement sheltered while still having the use of the money (with restrictions). You also get:
- Continuation of your government benefits while you rely on trust funds to pay for supplemental needs which are not provided by Medicaid or SSI
- Less burden on other family members
- The ability, in certain situations, to leave assets to other family members upon your death
- Professional management of your funds by an experienced trustee
Who needs a Pooled Special Needs Trust?
Elderly and/or Disabled individuals who:
- Have too much income or assets and need to qualify for government benefits.
- Don’t want to “spend down” their monies in order to qualify for benefits.
- Need more available income to stay in a community setting or to delay or prevent the need for Nursing Home placement.
- Are facing end of Medicaid Nursing Home coverage and are unable to privately pay for their Nursing Home costs.
- Need to enroll in the Medically Needy program.
- Are enrolled in the Medically Needy program and want their income to be used for personal care outside of medical needs.
What can happen if you don’t establish a Pooled Special Needs Trust?
If you are an adult with disabilities without a Special Needs Trust to protect your assets, you are risking more than you might appreciate.
- You risk losing your public benefits and relying on your own assets to provide for basic care and to maintain your lifestyle.
- You risk only being eligible again for public benefits after all your personal assets are depleted.
- You risk losing your assets through mismanagement if you rely on family members or other non-professionals to handle the funds.
What do pooled trust beneficiaries receive?
Pooled Trust beneficiaries get more than just protection of public benefits. They also get:
- Professional Management – Pooled Trust beneficiaries get the advantages that come from being a member of a large trust, including better interest rates and commercial trustee and money management services, all for an annual fee that’s a percentage of the assets in the trust.
- Assets Return to the Family Upon Death of Beneficiary – With our Pooled Trust, remaining assets may go back to the family after Medicaid is repaid or remain in the trust for the benefit of other disabled persons.
How can I use the money in the pooled trust and what are supplemental needs?
The funds in the Pooled Trust can be used for supplemental/special needs of the beneficiary not covered by Medicaid or other public programs and when the purchase of or payment for such items do not risk the beneficiary’s eligibility for these programs.
The following examples are not exclusive, but will illustrate the types of special, supplemental, non-support disbursements that are appropriate for the Pooled Trust trustee to make on behalf of the trust beneficiary:
- Health and dental treatment and equipment for which there are not funds otherwise available
- Rehabilitative and occupational therapy services
- Medical procedures, even though not medically necessary or lifesaving
- Medical insurance premiums
- Supplemental nursing care
- Supplemental dietary needs
- Private case management
- Cultural experience
- Expenses associated with bringing relatives or friends to visit with the beneficiary
- Training and education programs
- Reading and educational materials
Are there limitations on how the money in my Pooled Trust can be used?
Yes, the funds can only be used for your “sole benefit”. Payments for food or shelter can impact SSI benefits and may not be made (see SSI and distributions from the Pooled Special Needs Trust). The Trustee has total discretion over payment of the funds to the beneficiary in accordance with the terms of the Trust. Payments may not be made directly to the beneficiary. Upon the death of a beneficiary of a Special Needs Pooled Trust (funded by the individual), claims for reimbursement of Medicaid must be repaid to the State before funds are distributed to the beneficiary’s estate.
SSI and distributions from the Pooled Special Needs Trust
When a Pooled Special Needs Trust (or any other third party, for that matter), pays a shelter expense for a person who receives SSI benefits, SSI will take a dollar-for-dollar reduction from the following month’s SSI check. This reduction in benefits is ultimately mitigated by a regulatory reduction cap called the Presumed Maximum Value that limits the total reduction.
SSI defines “Shelter” as follows
- Mortgage Payments
- Rent Payments
- Homeowner’s insurance
- Gas Bills
- Electric Bills
- Heating Fuel
- Water Bills
- Sewer Bills
- Garbage Collection
- Property Taxes
This list is found at P.O.M.S. SI §00835.320.
What are the advantages of establishing a Pooled Special Needs Trust?
The sub-accounts are pooled into one account managed by professional money managers which allows for a higher rate of return than would be possible if funds were invested separately. Some banks are reluctant to administer small trusts and may charge fees that small trusts are unable to pay. Banks generally are not involved with the regulations for public assistance programs such as Medicaid, SSI, and housing programs and can be ill equipped to deal with the specific needs of a personal injury victim eligible for public benefits.
Who can join the Settlement Solutions National Pooled Trust and do I have to reside in Florida?
Any disabled individual that needs to preserve public benefits such as Medicaid or SSI. The Beneficiary must meet the Social Security definition of disabled. The Social Security definition is as follows:
- Disability under Social Security is based on your inability to work. We consider you disabled under Social Security rules if you cannot do work that you did before and we decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s). Your disability must also last or be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
You do not have to reside in Florida to join our pooled trust.
How do I establish/join a pooled trust and do I need an attorney?
To join the Settlement Solutions National Pooled Trust, one must complete a joinder agreement (or it may be signed by a parent, grandparent, legal guardian or ordered by a Court) and provide identification. In some cases a court order might be necessary in order to join. It is suggested, not required, that legal counsel be consulted prior to establishing a Pooled Special Needs Trust.
What types of assets can be used to fund my Pooled Special Needs Trust?
Cash and other liquid assets in the form of stocks or bonds, money market funds and treasury bills may be contributed to the trust. Also, receipts from insurance policies, annuities, or settlements may be used.
Is there a minimum I must put in my Pooled Special Needs Trust sub-account in order to join?
No, there is no minimum amount. However, there must be enough funds to pay for the enrollment fee and annual fees.
Can I add funds to my pooled trust sub-account after I join?
Yes, funds may be added to the pooled trust sub-account at any point in time.
Will I get regular statements on the financial performance of the funds in my sub-account?
Yes. Statements are provided quarterly for each trust.
Is the interest earned on assets in the trust taxable?
Yes, the interest is taxable.
How do I request funds?
A distribution request must be completed by the trust beneficiary or his/her legal representative to access the funds. Funds may be requested at any time and there is no limit on the number of distributions from the beneficiary’s trust account. However, funds will not be distributed for expenditures that jeopardize eligibility for public entitlements such as SSI and Medicaid.
What are the fees charged to manage my Pooled Special Needs Trust?
The investment manager charges an annual investment fee. The Trustee charges a one-time enrollment fee and a yearly fee for administration.
Can I Switch Pooled Trusts?
YES! We have had beneficiaries join our trust by leaving other Pooled Trusts. Are you not able to get up-to-date accountings with your current Pooled Trust? Are you dissatisfied with the service provided to you by your current Pooled Trust? We want to make it easy for you to transfer from your current pooled trust to the Settlement Solutions National Pooled Trust. Outside a guardianship, you do not need a court order, just direct your current trustee to distribute the entire remaining account to your newly established Settlement Solutions National Pooled Trust sub-account (a joinder agreement for our trust must be completed). For those of you subject to a guardianship, you will need a court order. We have a sample Petition and Order for transferring between Pooled Trusts that you may download below, to help get you started. We look forward to assisting you with our outstanding service and commitment.