A Supplemental Needs Trust

What is a Supplemental Needs Trust?

Individuals with mental retardation and/or developmental disabilities who have assets over approximately $2,000 are ineligible to receive state and federal services and must spend their money down to this amount first. However, the government does allow "special needs trusts" to be set up for children with disabilities. These are irrevocable trusts in which a guardian decides how to spend the money on the child. They are the best way for relatives to leave funds to the child, as they do not count against the child when determining their eligibility for government services.

Generally, need-based government benefit programs allow a person to keep no more than $2,000 (SSI limit) in resources. This is what is known as the "subsistence level." Any additional income beyond the subsistence level will reduce or eliminate the availability of public benefits. Without the Supplemental Needs Trust, a person would be forced to choose between keeping a limited public benefit and having adequate private funds to improve his or her quality of life.

Now families can plan for the future of their disabled family member. Families no longer need to fear that their son or daughter will live at a subsistence level. Families can provide housing and other services which have come to be considered fundamental to the concept of "quality of life." The disabled are no longer left subject to the constraints of the Federal and State budgets, and open to the curtailment of the bare minimum existence that government programs allow.

The Supplemental Needs Trust can meet many of the concerns of family members and secure their family members with a home of their own.

The New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC) has developed at no charge, "A Guide for Families and Friends of People with Developmental Disabilities" to help families better understand the many important facts and information on issues involved in planning for the future. This publication provides parents and guardians with up-to-date information on how to best prepare for the future well-being of their family members. This publication provides valuable planning information on such topics as housing options, government benefits, estate planning, trusts, guardianship, and burial planning.

Return to Home page