We help disabled clients and their families in Portland qualify for and maintain government benefits through the use of trusts. Special needs trusts are recognized by both federal and Oregon state law and when properly drafted and administered, can be a real help to disabled individuals and their families.

What is a special needs trust?

Special needs trusts or supplemental needs trusts are designed to create a fund to improve a disabled individual’s quality of life while ensuring they continue their access to means-tested government benefits.

These trusts work by removing assets or income of the disabled person as “available” under the benefit criteria. The trustee pays for a disabled individual’s “special” or supplemental needs that government assistance does not cover. For example, things such as travel, entertainment, cable TV and internet, are all covered by the trust and the government benefits pay for the person’s health care, food, and shelter.

The trust pays for a disabled individual’s needs that government assistance does not cover, such as house cleaning or travel.

When might a special needs trust be appropriate?

There are many scenarios when a special needs trust may be appropriate. In general, the trusts are used when a person is on means-tested benefits and may receive money that would put them over the $2,000 resource limit. Some examples include:

  • A person who receives SSI (supplemental security income) just received an personal injury settlement that will terminate his benefits
  • A person who qualifies for SSDI now needs Medicaid to pay for in home care, but is over the asset limit
  • A disabled individual worries that the inheritance she will receive from her grandparent might compromise her benefits

What can a Special Needs Trust be pay for?

It’s important to look at the specific terms of the trust agreement, but generally special needs trusts pay for those things that the individual’s assistance does not cover. Some examples include:

  • Cleaning services
  • Yoga Therapy
  • Entertainment, Cable, Internet
  • “Non-countable” resources such as a car
  • Transportation and travel
  • Hobbies

Because every trust is different, talk to an attorney if you have any questions about what you can purchase for a disabled person with the funds in a special needs trust.

What types of Special Needs Trust are there?

There are trusts funded up by the disabled individuals themselves (First Party or “Payback” trusts( and there are trusts funded by loved ones (Third Party trusts). There are also trusts that are created by a will (Testamentary trusts). Talk with a lawyer to determine which type of trust is right for your situation.


To learn more, call our Portland office for a complimentary consultation. 971-284-7129.


Photo Credit: Ian Sane via Flickr.