It can be virtually impossible for individuals who have serious disabilities to work. Luckily, both the State of Ohio and the federal government offer valuable benefits to many low-income individuals who cannot support themselves. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, these means-tested benefits can include food and housing assistance, medical care and supplemental income.
As you probably know, needs-based public benefits are typically meager. If you have a loved one who has a disability, you might be able to set up a special needs trust to give him or her some additional financial assistance.
What is a special needs trust?
A special needs trust is a unique estate planning tool that allows a beneficiary to tap into additional financial resources without jeopardizing his or her eligibility for needs-based public assistance. Beneficiaries of special needs trusts cannot use trust disbursements to pay for everything, however.
Indeed, if a person accesses the special needs trust to pay for the same things public benefits traditionally cover, that individual might lose his or her public assistance.
What expenses are acceptable?
It is usually not ok for special needs trust beneficiaries to use trust disbursements to pay for food, housing, basic medical care and similar expenses. Still, beneficiaries can access the trust for a variety of other costs. Among others, these usually include the following:
- Uncovered medical, dental and psychiatric care
- Medical devices, such as wheelchairs, ramps and prosthetic devices
- Transportation, like a car or bus pass
- Education, training and learning experiences
- Recreation and hobby items
Ultimately, if your loved one is having a lower quality of life due to only receiving public assistance, setting up a special needs trust can give him or her access to money to use on expenses that make life a little bit better.