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Russell C. Golowin, J.D., LL.M.
1820 Northwest Boulevard, Suite 100
Columbus, Ohio 43212

 Tel: (614) 487-8887
Fax: (614) 486-8883
russ@golowinlegal.com

 

 


Special Needs

Some children have special needs that require extra care and attention.  Often, these children are eligible for benefits so that they may be properly cared for.  Problems may arise if that child is to recieve money through inheriting it or through winning a lawsuit, because if they recieve the money, they may become ineligible for benefits, and then all the money must be exhausted before they can recieve public benefits once again.

A "Special Needs Trust" is a type of trust where a parent or other person may place money to increase the child's quality of life, but without disqualifying the child from recieving the state or federal benefits.

What are the Requirements for a Special Needs Trust?

A Special Needs Trust is often used in situations where a child inherits money, or the child's disability was caused by accident or injury and, as a result, the person has recovered funds due to a lawsuit or insurance settlement.

Federal law requires that the following basic requirements be met for the establishment of a special needs trust:

  • Disabled beneficiary: The trust must be established for the benefit of a person with a disability.
  • Under age 65: The person with a disability must be under age 65.
  • Established by parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or court: The trust must be established by a parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or court.
  • Payback provision: Upon the death of the trust beneficiary, the state will receive all amounts remaining in the trust, up to the amount equal to the dollar amount of medical assistance paid on behalf of the beneficiary.

Ohio regulations also add the following requirements for payments from a special needs trust:

  • No direct cash payments: The payments cannot be made directly to the beneficiary. They must be purchased by the trustee and some courts require that the payments be made directly to the service being provided.
  • Supplemental services: Payments can only be made for "supplemental services" as defined by the Ohio regulations.

What Can the Special Needs Trust Pay For?

Payments from a special needs trust are to be made only for "supplemental services." Supplemental services are defined by the Ohio Administrative Code and are expenditures, items, or services which:

  • are in addition to services provided by government programs;
  • do not take the place of services that are otherwise available without funds from the trust;
  • are in addition to basic necessities, such as food, clothing, shelter, education, and medical care; and
  • are in addition to other items provided pursuant to an ascertainable standard.

Some examples of supplemental services may include:

  • travel and vacation
  • hobbies and recreational activities
  • exercise equipment
  • subscriptions to magazines
  • stereo system

To summarize, the Ohio Administrative Code states that supplemental services must be spent on things that "provide dignity, purpose, optimism, and joy to the beneficiary of the trust."

Is a Special Needs Trust Right for Your Child?

The biggest advantage is that is allows a person with a disability to retain their eligibility for Medicaid benefits. For example, although a person might be awarded a substantial amount of money in a lawsuit, those funds might be quickly depleted if the person loses their Medicaid benefits that cover nursing hours. The trust allows the person to use the funds for quality of life while preserving their medical benefits.

Using a Special Needs Trust gives your child the little "extras" that make life that much more enjoyable.

To discuss your loved one's needs, contact Golowin Legal today.

 
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