There are many benefits to having a special needs trust that go far beyond the ability to maintain eligibility for SSI or...Read more
SSDI is not a needs-based benefit. Because SSDI is not needs-based, a special needs trust is not necessary to qualify for it. However, depending on how much SSDI you receive, you may also qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or you may qualify (or already qualify) for Medicaid. These are both needs-based benefits, and a special needs trust would be required to keep them protected.
It is also important to remember that Medicaid pays for certain things that Medicare will not, most importantly, skilled nursing facility costs and some in-home caregiving. If you will ever need these services in the future, you may need to qualify for Medicaid. Therefore, even if you do not need a special needs trust now, you may need one down the road. As you age, long-term care needs are more likely, and the cost of care is very expensive. Should family members attempt to offer financial help or leave you an inheritance, it could jeopardize your benefits and ability to pay for increased health care services. A special needs trust can eliminate this concern and let your family provide additional support as necessary.
Special needs trusts are irrevocable and managed by a trustee. Since you can't access the funds, whatever the trust holds will not be a countable asset toward SSI or Medicaid eligibility. There are different types of special needs trusts, including first-party, third-party, and pooled trusts. Which one is right for you depends on your specific circumstances. A qualified special needs planning attorney can help you and your family make an informed decision.
Whether you are applying for Medicaid now or anticipate needing it in the future, you should have a professional evaluate your financial resources to access Medicaid benefits quickly when you need them. You'll have many more options for the level of care and services you prefer if you prepare in advance. In the case of an immediate need, you should reach out to a special needs attorney to ensure your application is processed as fast as possible to prevent spending all of your resources on long-term care needs before benefits arrive.
Long-term care planning often involves Medicaid planning if you can't afford your health care services. However, depending on your age, overall health, and financial situation, there may be other ways to offset long-term care costs. Estate planning and elder law attorneys develop custom legal strategies to protect your entire family and provide instructions in emergencies. From trusts and wills to advance directives, you'll be prepared for the future.