What is a Special Needs Trust under Pennsylvania Law?


Persons with disabilities and their families face significant challenges when designing an estate plan. Lawyers must be able to construct an estate plan to ensure that assets will be received and used for the disabled person as intended without jeopardizing governmental benefits. In Pennsylvania a Special Needs Trust is a trust designed to supplement government benefits. There are three main special needs trust types: 1)Common Law Trust 2)Payback Trust and 3)OBRA Pooled Trust.

By utilizing a Special Needs Trust, the disabled family member can continue receiving governmental benefits (Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, and other services) even though assets are over the eligibility limit . Assets in a Special Needs Trust can be used for such purposes as funeral planning, medical and dental care not otherwise covered by public assistance or private insurance, psychiatric / psychological / recreational / occupational therapy, home care aides, education, transportation, furnishings, and quality of life enhancements. However, funds cannot be directed to food, housing, or clothing needs unless the governmental benefits are insufficient to meet those needs.

Federal and State laws determine the legal ramifications of Special Needs Trusts. This is a complex area of law and you should always consult an attorney familiar with Special Needs Trusts in your state to determine what plan is best for your situation.

The information within this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own particular situation.