Pooled Special Needs Trusts for Unmarried Clients Over 65
If a client is over the age of 65, settlements can greatly affect the client's benefits if the client is in poor health and receiving SSI, food stamps, Medicaid, Section 8 housing, Veterans' benefits, long-term care Medicaid assistance, HUD-subsidized housing for the elderly, or any other means-tested benefits. The settlement has the potential to affect the client's eligibility negatively unless careful planning is implemented.
Pooled special needs trusts are a good option for preserving governmental benefits for single disabled adults over 65 (not for married couples, as pooled trusts are not advisable). These kinds of trusts preserve assets for such individuals and seek to supplement their care and increase the quality of their lives. Becoming a member of a pooled special needs trust is an excellent planning option that can help maintain the beneficiary's security.
Some of the disbursements available from the pool include guardianship fees, legal fees, hair care, podiatry, medically necessary transportation, attendant care and translators. A client receiving 24-hour care in a nursing facility has pooled trust assets available for the client's care while Medicaid benefits are uninfluenced. A frequent example of how pooled trusts are disbursed is for nursing facility bed holds. This is necessary if a client experiences a prolonged hospitalization that would normally force the nursing home to make the bed available to another client, relinquishing the hospitalized client's spot and causing them to be discharged to an unfamiliar facility. Being displaced to a new facility could be traumatic for the disabled client, so disbursements of this kind are important. Other disbursment uses include preservation or maintenance of a beneficiary's home, including taxes, repairs, snow removal and lawn care.
There is current debate over whether transfers to pooled special needs trusts for clients over 65 are legal under federal Medicaid policies, as specified in the Social Security Administration's Program Operations Manual (POMs). Each state implements Medicaid according to its own plan, so policies regarding clients over 65 vary. Some states impose penalties for transfers and being knowledgeable about what is allowable in the client's specific jurisdiction is important.
See more advice on Special Needs Trusts.