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What expenses can a special needs trust cover?

On Behalf of | Sep 30, 2022 | Estate Planning

Having an adult child who has a disability can be worrisome. After all, despite being unable to work, your child has expensive needs. Beyond that, like everyone else, your son or daughter has living expenses to pay every single month.

Fortunately, according to, the government offers a broad safety net to low-income individuals who cannot work. To qualify for Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and other needs-based public benefits, though, your child must have extremely limited income.

Your special needs trust

As you probably know, it can be risky to give money to a person who receives public benefits. This is because monetary gifts typically count as income for purposes of determining eligibility for government assistance. Because your special needs trust holds funds for your child’s benefit, he or she can use the trust to pay for certain expenses while still qualifying for public help.

Disbursement restrictions

If your child uses disbursements from the special needs trust to pay for living expenses or basic medical care, he or she can become ineligible for government help. Luckily, your special needs trustee should review all disbursement requests to ensure they do not run afoul of program rules. If they do, the trustee should deny them.

Acceptable disbursements

Even though your son or daughter cannot use the special needs trust to pay for living expenses, he or she can use it for many other expenses. Paying for luxury items, such as travel or home modifications, is usually acceptable. Moreover, your child can probably use the trust to cover travel, education and uncovered medical expenses.

Ultimately, if asking your child to try to survive on meager public benefits makes you shudder, you can give him or her access to funds that vastly improve his or her quality of life.


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