Financial Concerns

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As the parent of a child with disabilities, one of your concerns will be to provide for the future for your child.

It is important to make sure that all assets are kept out of your disabled child's name (including assets left in a will) so they can maintain financial eligibility for Medicaid and SSI. Currently, assets of just $2000 in your child's name will make them ineligible for SSI.

Assets can be kept and/or willed for your child's benefit (but kept out of their name) via a Special Needs Trust. Be sure to tell extended family, such as grandparents, not to will assets to your child.

Special Needs Trust

A Special Needs Trust is a special kind of trust that holds title to property for the benefit of a child or adult who has a disability. The Special Needs Trust can be used to provide for the needs of a disabled person to supplement benefits received from various governmental assistance programs. A trust can hold cash, personal property, or real property, or can be the beneficiary of life insurance proceeds

Special needs refers to the necessities for maintaining the comfort and happiness of a disabled person, when such necessities are not being provided by any public or private agency. Special needs can include (but are not limited to):

  • medical and dental expenses, and annual independent check-ups
  • equipment
  • programs of training
  • education
  • treatment, and rehabilitation
  • eye glasses
  • transportation (including vehicle purchase)
  • maintenance
  • insurance
  • essential dietary needs

Special Needs Trusts may also include items such as spending money, electronic equipment (such as radios, CD players, television sets, and computer equipment) vacations, entertainment, money to purchase appropriate gifts for relatives and friends, and other items to enhance self-esteem.

Parents (or other family members) of a disabled child can establish a Special Needs Trust as part of their general estate plan. You can route the child's share of the estate into this trust and not worry that your child will be prevented from receiving benefits when you are not there to care for him/her.

A disabled person who expects an inheritance or other large sum of money may also establish a Special Needs Trust. Receiving these funds might otherwise disqualify them from public benefits. In many situations, a trust can also be established after the disabled person has received an extraordinary amount of money, though a court order may be necessary.

To learn more about Special Needs Trusts and the asset restrictions on individuals with disabilities, contact an Estate Planner in your area. There is also a good written resource on this topic available from the WSA. Contact the WSA National Office for more information.

You can read more about related government assistance programs at: