What are Special Needs Trusts?

Special Needs Trusts are an exception to the rules that normally apply to Trusts.  Normally, a Trust would be considered an available asset whenever someone applies for a “means based” public assistance program such as Medicaid or Social Security Income (SSI).  Public assistance programs create special and unique administrative problems.

However, unlike traditional Trusts, a Special Needs Trust that is properly drafted and administered will not be counted as an available asset; therefore, Trust disbursements will not be counted as income under the rules that apply to Medicaid and SSI.  The Trust assets can also be used to meet additional needs that are not provided for by basic public assistance.  A list of some of these needs can be found under the “Presentations” tab, entitled “Permissible Distributions“.


When was the NonProfit Pooled Special Needs Trust established?

In January 2004, the Ohio Charity Foundation created the NonProfit Pooled Special Needs Trust for persons who are disabled and receiving governmental benefits such as Social Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability (SSD), and Medicaid.

The Ohio Charity Foundation and its service partners established the NonProfit Pooled Trust to improve care for disabled individuals, decrease administrative costs associated with administering the Trust, and protect the beneficiary and his or her family in the likelihood of litigation in the future.


Why should I apply for a Pooled Special Needs Trust?

There are several advantages to a Pooled Special Needs Trust.  First, a Pooled Trust allows the fund’s for multiple beneficiaries to be retained in a single Trust.  This Trust, established under State and Federal Law, is well suited for circumstances where there is not an extended family, or other children, or where the amounts to be retained are rather modest.  This type of Trust is also very beneficial should there be a shortage of potential Trustees in the family.

Another primary benefit is shared administrative costs and shared disbursement control.  Because the investments are pre-designated when you sign up for the Trust, you incur lower administrative fees while still having the ability to manage the investment of funds.

If a beneficiary receives a monetary endowment as a gift, inheritance, or from a settlement, this gift could result in a loss of governmental benefits.  If the assets can be shifted into the Trust account, the monies will not be considered as an available asset or as income, and the dependant can reapply for lost benefits.

In some states, there is no age requirement for establishing a Pooled Trust, so any disabled individual or his or her family can apply for this type of Trust.

How do I enroll in the NonProfit Master Trust?

Please visit the Trust Application page.  

What happens to the monies I place in the Trust?

Once a disabled individual establishes a NonProfit Pooled Special Needs Trust, the third party administrator, The Center for Special Needs Trust Administration, reviews all disbursement requests for eligibility, payment based on benefit, and state of residency.   The Trustee then authorizes the disbursements and sends the requests to the investment firm which issues the check.

For more information regarding this process, please visit the “Presentations” tab and click on “Disbursement Process”.

What to Expect After You Enroll in the Pooled Trust

 The first part of the enrollment, or Joinder process, is simply to follow the instructions for completing a Joinder Agreement and sending it to the Trustee, which is The Center for Special Needs Trust Administration, Inc. (the Center).  A complete set of these instructions is included as the first two pages of each Joinder Agreement.  If you have not yet downloaded a Joinder Agreement along with its instructions, you may do so later or click on this link to download a copy now. 

After you send your signed Joinder Agreement and its Exhibits to The Center, you can expect the following to take place:

  1. After receiving your signed Joinder Agreement and Exhibits, The Center will formally accept its duties as Trustee by signing your Joinder Agreement and mailing you an acceptance packet. 
  2.  Your acceptance packet will include a complete copy of your Trust along with other important information.  For example, the packet will include information about how the Trustee conducts Trust business along with forms and instructions on how you make distribution requests from your Trust.  It is important to review this information carefully when you receive it.
  3.  The Trustee will call you to develop a distribution plan that best fits your needs and matches your objectives.  The Trustee will also appoint a case coordinator who will make contact with you or your representative.  Having a case coordinator provides a single contact person who can process your distribution requests.  A case coordinator can also answer your initial questions and any questions that come up once your Trust is under administration.
  4.  You can also expect that all distributions from your Trust will be made payable to vendors and service providers.  Due to the special nature of your Trust and its protection of your eligibility for public benefits, please note that no cash distributions are made to beneficiaries.  This limitation on cash distributions is a requirement to maintain eligibility for most public benefit programs because most programs have income limits that cannot be exceeded. 

What happens after the death of the Trust beneficiary(ies)?

After the death of the beneficiary(ies), the Trustee is permitted to hold any monies remaining in the Individual Beneficiary Agreement (IBA).  If a beneficiary from the Columbus Catholic Diocese who is mentally handicapped creates an IBA and any monies are remaining when the beneficiary passes away, those monies will go into the sub account for the Columbus Diocese residual sub account designated in the IBA (i.e. mentally handicapped, mentally disabled, etc.).  After accumulation of assets, that sub account will generate income, which will then be paid to the Columbus Diocese Social Concerns Department for use in their services delivered to the mentally handicapped in the Columbus Diocese.  If a beneficiary resides in the Cleveland Diocese at the time the IBA is created, the monies would go into the Cleveland Diocese sub account, so on, and so forth.  Each Diocese will have its own sub account.

In addition to residual amounts remaining in IBA’s, any person or charity may deposit to the Diocesan residual sub accounts monetary amounts raised on behalf of any of the identified populations.  An example would be Measure Up monies from the Knights of Columbus Council being directed to the particular Diocese residual sub account.  If Santa Maria Council 2898 wanted to donate its Measure Up monies to the Columbus Diocese Residual Sub Account – mentally handicapped, the Council would designate the particular residual sub account as the payee on the Measure Up Form.

When the Measure Up Program ends and checks are distributed, the State Council would make a check payable to the Columbus Diocese Residual Sub Account – mentally handicapped for deposit on behalf of Santa Maria Council 2898.

Presently, the Ohio Charity Foundation has made contributions of equal amounts to each Diocese Residual Sub Account – mentally handicapped in the amount of $15,500.00.