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What Is The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act

Change Needed In Federal Law
May 06, 2015 Persons with disabilities face potentially impoverishing long-term care costs. Many must rely on programs like Medicaid to cover these high costs. In order to qualify for Medicaid, individuals must often spend down their assets to as little as $2,000.

Due to these restrictions, Congress created several tools that enable individuals with disabilities to maintain some of their assets and still qualify for Medicaid. These tools include pooled trust, special needs trusts, and accounts set up under the recently passed ABLE Act.

Congress created pooled trusts and special needs trust in 1993. However, Congress left out the words 'the individual' in the special needs trust provision. The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act would correct an inequity by making a simple change to the Social Security Act that would allow individuals to set up their own special needs trusts.

Currently, only a grandparent, parent, court or legal guardian can set one up for them, even though they use the individual's own money to set up the trust. The provision leads to unnecessary legal and court fees for those who wish to establish a special needs trust but for some reason do not have parents or grandparents to help them set up these trust. In these instances, the individual is forced to petition the court to set up the trust.

The proposed legislation would add the word 'individual' to allow an individual with disabilities but still mentally competent to establish the trust.

I urge support of the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (S.349 sponsored by Chuck Grassely and Bill Nelson in the Senate and Glenn Thompson and Frank Pallone in the House.

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