A person with a disability can only have a certain amount of money in their name to qualify financially for the essential services they receive through means-tested government benefit programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This can make it challenging for people with disabilities to save money to plan for future needs and uncovered medical expenses.
Special Needs Trusts (SNT)
A special needs trust (SNT) is designed to help people with disabilities by sheltering excess assets and monthly income so that they can qualify and maintain their financial eligibility for services while providing the financial means to improve their quality of life.
A special needs trust can help people with disabilities and their families:
- Pay a monthly income spend-down to qualify for Medicaid community services
- Protect excess funds if a person receives money or is entitled to receive money in their name
- Plan for the future needs of a loved one with a disability
- Provide the means to make life-enhancing purchases
- Avoid having to routinely or quickly spend-down funds
- Protect funds to be spent wisely
NYSARC Trust Services, established by The Arc New York in 1972, is a non-profit organization that administers special needs trusts for people with disabilities. NYSARC Trust Services offers pooled trust programs and administers first- and third-party supplemental needs trusts that have helped thousands of people in New York protect benefits and improve their quality of life.
ABLE Accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts and can also help people with disabilities set aside money for qualified disability expenses while maintaining their eligibility for Medicaid and/or SSI benefits.
ABLE Accounts are available to people whose onset of disability was prior to age 26.
ABLE Accounts can promote independence with direct access to funds, however, the individual account holder is responsible for tracking and reporting account activity. An ABLE Account is best for individuals who can manage their own finances independently or with the assistance of someone they trust.
SNTs and ABLE accounts have many differences in how they are administered and each program offers unique benefits to the beneficiary or account holder. When used as a complement to a special needs trust, these tools together can make a real difference by helping the people we serve to maximize the benefits a person can receive, secure a better financial future, and enhance their quality of life.