One of the reasons you may fund a special needs trust for your child is so that they can have your financial support while also receiving needed government benefits, including Medicaid, Medi-Cal, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). But in order for your child to receive means-tested government benefits, the money in your child’s special needs trust may only be used for certain needs, services, and items.
The trustee in charge of distributing funds to your child from his or her trust should clearly understand which resources count when the government calculates who is eligible for benefits. Specifically, to qualify for SSI benefits, your child must not have more than $2,000 in countable resources.
Countable resources include:
- Money in bank checking or savings accounts.
- Personal property.
- Vehicles other than your primary vehicle.
- United States savings bonds.
- Life insurance.
- Property other than your primary residence.
- Retirement accounts.
- Investment accounts.
- Deemed resources – a portion of the resources held by certain family members, such as a parent or spouse.
Non-countable resources include:
- Your primary residence and the land it is on.
- Household goods, such as furniture.
- Personal effects, such as wedding rings.
- Burial plots and burial funds (up to $1,500 each) for immediate family.
- Life insurance policies with a combined value less than $1,500.
- One vehicle, used for transportation.
- Assets used to achieve self-support.
- Educational funds, such as scholarships or grants, though they must be used within nine months of receiving them.
Understanding the difference between countable and non-countable resources makes your child’s trustee most able to help and provide for your child – and to make certain they are getting the care and support they need. To learn more about countable resources, as well as the SSI program, visit the United States Social Security website.
If you wish to set up a special needs trust for your child, or if you simply have questions for a California attorney about estate planning with a special needs child, contact The Law Office of Janet Brewer today: (650) 325-8276.