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Who is Eligible? Are there age restrictions?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
For persons who are disabled, the beneficiary does not need to have a specific disability. Families who suspect that a family member may need governmental benefits in the future can set aside that family member’s inheritance in a third party special needs trust.
First Party Special Needs Trust
Self-settled special needs trust requires a person per SSA regulations under the age of 65 be disabled but the trustee of a (d)(4)(A) trust can be a family member, friend, professional or corporate trust.
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
For persons who are disabled but may be used for a beneficiary who is borderline disabled or is modestly employed and not eligible for SSI or SSDI but may need other needs based benefits such as Medicaid, or Housing Subsidy. There is no age restriction for the beneficiary.
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
The beneficiary has a disability that meets the SSA definition of disability and is under the age of 65 when established.

Who can set up and fund the account?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
The grantor can be anyone, except the beneficiary. Multiple third-parties can contribute to the trust.
First Party Special Needs Trust
The grantor can be the disabled person, a parent, grandparent, court or legal guardian. The trust is funded with the beneficiary’s own money.
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
The grantor can be anyone, except the beneficiary. Multiple third-parties can contribute to the trust.
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
The grantor can be the beneficiary, parent, grandparent, court or legal guardian. The trust is funded with funds which belong to the beneficiary as in the first party special needs trust.

Does the beneficiary have to reside in the state where the program or trust is located?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
There are no restrictions on a third party special needs trust.
First Party Special Needs Trust
There are no restrictions on a first party special needs trust.
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Many pooled trusts organizations are state-specific, but there are a number of national pooled trust organizations that serve clients throughout the United States.
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
There are no restrictions on a first party pooled special needs trust.

Can the beneficiary have more than one account or type of trust?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
A beneficiary can have more than one trust account.
First Party Special Needs Trust
A beneficiary can have more than one trust account.
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
A beneficiary can have more than one trust account.
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
A beneficiary can have more than one trust account.

Are there any restrictions on contributions?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
No limits on contributions per year but no contributions can be made by the beneficiary or with funds the beneficiary has a legal right to.
First Party Special Needs Trust
No limits on contributions per year but contributions can only be made by the beneficiary or with funds the beneficiary has a legal right to.
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
No limits on contributions per year but no contributions can be made by the beneficiary or with funds the beneficiary has a legal right to.
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
No limits on contributions per year but contributions can only be made by the beneficiary or with funds the beneficiary has a legal right to.

Are Medicaid benefits protected?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
A beneficiary can retain Medicaid if all distributions are made to vendors or third parties and cash not distributed directly to the beneficiary.
First Party Special Needs Trust
A beneficiary can retain Medicaid if all distributions are made to vendors or third parties and cash not distributed directly to the beneficiary.
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
A beneficiary can retain Medicaid if all distributions are made to vendors or third parties and cash not distributed directly to the beneficiary.
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
A beneficiary can retain Medicaid if all distributions are made to vendors or third parties and cash not distributed directly to the beneficiary.

Are SSI benefits protected?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
The trust is set up to protect SSI benefits. There are no restrictions on the account balance in order to maintain eligibility. Distributions toward shelter expenses may be deemed as in kind support and result in a one-third loss of SSI. There is discretion to transfer up to $15,000 per year to an ABLE Account to be used for Qualified Housing Expenses which may avoid a reduction in SSI.
First Party Special Needs Trust
The trust is set up to protect SSI benefits. There are no restrictions on the account balance in order to maintain eligibility. Distributions toward shelter expenses may be deemed as in kind support and result in a one-third loss of SSI. There is discretion to transfer up to $15,000 per year to an ABLE Account to be used for Qualified Housing Expenses which may avoid a reduction in SSI.
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
The trust is set up to protect SSI benefits. There are no restrictions on the account balance in order to maintain eligibility. Distributions toward shelter expenses may be deemed as in kind support and result in a one-third loss of SSI. There is discretion to transfer up to $15,000 per year to an ABLE Account to be used for Qualified Housing Expenses which may avoid a reduction in SSI.
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
The trust is set up to protect SSI benefits. There are no restrictions on the account balance in order to maintain eligibility. Distributions toward shelter expenses may be deemed as in kind support and result in a one-third loss of SSI. There is discretion to transfer up to $15,000 per year to an ABLE Account to be used for Qualified Housing Expenses which may avoid a reduction in SSI.

Is there oversight to ensure the funds are used for the individual with a disability in accordance with the rules?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
While SSI, DMH/DDS/ DHS and Medicaid agencies can demand an accounting of how funds in a third party special needs trust are managed, there is less oversight than with pooled first and third party special needs trusts. With an individual trustee or Corporate trustee who is not familiar with distribution rules, there is a greater risk of naive error which may result in a loss or diminution of benefits.
First Party Special Needs Trust
While SSI, DMH/DDS/ DHS and Medicaid agencies can demand an accounting of how funds in a third party special needs trust are managed, there is less oversight than with pooled first and third party special needs trusts. With an individual trustee or Corporate trustee who is not familiar with distribution rules, there is a greater risk of naive error which may result in a loss or diminution of benefits.
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
A pooled special needs trust is helpful when a parent or other person wants to leave money for a disabled individual but fears the individual cannot prudently handle funds on his or her own or in the case where a family member needs to remain eligible for needs based benefits. This trust offers an experienced choice to families when selecting a trust administrator to manage funds left for the benefit of a disabled individual. For clients receiving SSI and Medicaid benefits, the pooled trust administrator provides oversight so as to not jeopardize these benefits.
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
While SSI, DMH/DDS/ DHS and Medicaid agencies can demand an accounting of how funds in a third party special needs trust are managed, there is less oversight than with pooled first and third party special needs trusts. With an individual trustee or Corporate trustee who is not familiar with distribution rules, there is a greater risk of naive error which may result in a loss or diminution of benefits.

What type of assets are accepted?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
Unless a corporate or other professional trustee has specific rules regarding what assets can be held in a trust, there are no limitations as to what type of assets are acceptable.
First Party Special Needs Trust
Restrictions will vary depending on the trustee’s rules or practices. An individual trustee may be more willing to hold real estate in the trust than a professional trustee.
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Cash assets are accepted to fund the trust. The funds are pooled together for investment purposes and each beneficiary has his or her own sub account. Some pooled trust organizations may accept real estate or non-cash assets.
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Cash assets are accepted to fund the trust. The funds are pooled together for investment purposes and each beneficiary has his or her own sub account. Some pooled trust organizations may accept real estate or non-cash assets.

What are the set up and ongoing costs?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
Administration fees will vary depending on who is serving as trustee. If an individual family member, he or she may not charge. There are administrative costs involved with filing taxes and filing accountings.
First Party Special Needs Trust
Enrollment and administration fees are likely higher than those associated with ABLE accounts but are often lower than for-profit businesses that offer trust services. Management fees for a pooled special needs trust can be less than one percent on an annual basis. A fee schedule should be available.
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Enrollment and administration fees are likely higher than those associated with ABLE accounts but are often lower than for-profit businesses that offer trust services. Management fees for a pooled special needs trust can be less than one percent on an annual basis. A fee schedule should be available.
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Enrollment and administration fees are likely higher than those associated with ABLE accounts but are often lower than for-profit businesses that offer trust services. Management fees for a pooled special needs trust can be less than one percent on an annual basis. A fee schedule should be available.

What expenses can be paid?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
Disbursements can pay for goods and services that will enrich the quality of life of the beneficiary while protecting benefits of SSI and Medicaid recipients. There is greater flexibility in what the pooled trust can pay for compared to the ABLE account since expenses do not have to be related to the beneficiary’s disability. The following are some examples: education, transportation, health care, cable, phone, internet, employment training and support, assistive technology, care provider, prevention and wellness, home renovations, legal fees, hobby, leisure, and recreation activities, gifts for others that are given on behalf of the beneficiary, paying for a family member companion on vacations or travel or for family and/or friends to visit the beneficiary and all funeral expenses.
First Party Special Needs Trust
Disbursements are for the sole benefit of the beneficiary and can pay for goods and services that will enrich the quality of life of the beneficiary while protecting benefits of SSI and Medicaid recipients. There is greater flexibility in what the pooled trust can pay for compared to the ABLE account since expenses do not have to be related to the beneficiary’s disability. The following are some examples: education, transportation, health care, cable, phone, internet, employment training and support, assistive technology, care provider, prevention and wellness, home renovations, legal fees, recreation, hobby and leisure activities. Purchasing a prepaid funeral is allowed but funeral expenses are disallowed following the death of the beneficiary.
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Disbursements can pay for goods and services that will enrich the quality of life of the beneficiary while protecting benefits of SSI and Medicaid recipients. There is greater flexibility in what the pooled trust can pay for compared to the ABLE account since expenses do not have to be related to the beneficiary’s disability. The following are some examples: education, transportation, health care, cable, phone, internet, employment training and support, assistive technology, care provider, prevention and wellness, home renovations, legal fees, hobby, leisure, and recreation activities, gifts for others that are given on behalf of the beneficiary, paying for a family member companion on vacations or travel or for family and/or friends to visit the beneficiary and all funeral expenses.
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Disbursements are for the sole benefit of the beneficiary and can pay for goods and services that will enrich the quality of life of the beneficiary while protecting benefits of SSI and Medicaid recipients. There is greater flexibility in what the pooled trust can pay for compared to the ABLE account since expenses do not have to be related to the beneficiary’s disability. The following are some examples: education, transportation, health care, cable, phone, internet, employment training and support, assistive technology, care provider, prevention and wellness, home renovations, legal fees, recreation, hobby and leisure activities. Purchasing a prepaid funeral is allowed but funeral expenses are disallowed following the death of the beneficiary.

How are funds disbursed from the account?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
The trustee has sole discretion regarding all distributions from a Special Needs Trust.
First Party Special Needs Trust
The trustee has sole discretion regarding all distributions from a Special Needs Trust
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Named by the grantor, an advocate is responsible for making disbursement requests on behalf of beneficiary. The advocate has access to financial statements and can be the beneficiary, guardian, conservator, power of attorney, family member, case manager, and/or someone named who is familiar with the needs of the beneficiary. The PSNT organization makes payments from a beneficiary’s sub account for approved disbursements.
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Named by the grantor, an advocate is responsible for making disbursement requests on behalf of beneficiary. The advocate has access to financial statements and can be the beneficiary, guardian, conservator, power of attorney, family member, case manager, and/or someone named who is familiar with the needs of the beneficiary. The PSNT organization (cont.) makes payments from a beneficiary’s sub account for approved disbursements.

Are contributions tax-deductible?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
Contributions are not tax-deductible (federal or state).
First Party Special Needs Trust
Contributions are not tax-deductible (federal or state).
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Contributions are not tax-deductible (federal or state).
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Contributions are not tax-deductible (federal or state).

Is the account revocable?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
The trust can be revocable or irrevocable.
First Party Special Needs Trust
The trust is irrevocable.
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
The trust can be revocable or irrevocable.
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
The trust is irrevocable.

How are funds invested?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
The investment options are within the discretion of the trustee. General trust rules require that they conform to reasonable prudent person rules regarding investments.
First Party Special Needs Trust
The investment options are within the discretion of the trustee. General trust rules require that they conform to reasonable prudent person rules regarding investments.
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Trust funds are pooled, or grouped together, for investment purposes and an accounting is maintained in each beneficiary’s sub account. Pooling funds can provide for greater investment opportunities and lower administrative fees
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Trust funds are pooled, or grouped together, for investment purposes and an accounting is maintained in each beneficiary’s sub account. Pooling funds can provide for greater investment opportunities and lower administrative fees

What happens if nonqualified expenses are paid?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
Distributions are not limited to certain qualifying expenses.
First Party Special Needs Trust
Distributions are not limited to certain qualifying expenses.
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Distributions are not limited to certain qualifying expenses.
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Distributions are not limited to certain qualifying expenses.

What happens to remaining funds upon the death of the beneficiary?

Third Party Special Needs Trust
There is no pay-back requirement for third party special needs trusts. It can go to family, charity, etc.
First Party Special Needs Trust
Federal law authorizes pooled trust organizations to pay back the state(s) for medical claims paid by Medicaid on behalf of the beneficiary during the beneficiary’s lifetime or the funds can go to a nonprofit organization. Each nonprofit pooled trust organization has its own remainder policy. Some do not retain any of the remainder funds while others retain all or a portion of the funds. Note: Paying for funeral prior to Medicaid payback is not allowed. Note: Paying for funeral prior to Medicaid payback is not allowed.
Third Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
There is no Medicaid payback requirement. What happens to remaining funds in the trust upon the death of the beneficiary varies greatly among pooled trust organizations. Some do not retain any of the remainder funds and any remaining funds will go to the successor beneficiary(ies) named in the Joinder Agreement. Others retain all or a portion of the remaining funds.
First Party Pooled Special Needs Trust
Federal law authorizes pooled trust organizations to pay back the state(s) for medical claims paid by Medicaid on behalf of the beneficiary during the beneficiary’s lifetime or the funds can go to a nonprofit organization. Each nonprofit pooled trust organization has its own remainder policy. Some do not retain any of the remainder funds while others retain all or a portion of the funds. Note: Paying for funeral prior to Medicaid payback is not allowed. Note: Paying for funeral prior to Medicaid payback is not allowed.
1) Incentive to allow a disabled beneficiary who works to contribute an additional $11,770.00 per year to the account (this is the amount equal to the current federal poverty level).

2) Increase ago of eligibility from 26 to 46. 

3) Be able to rollover $ from a 529 account into an Able account with no negative tax consequences.
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