If a person with special needs has assets -- perhaps from a lawsuit award or settlement or from a gift or inheritance – those assets can disqualify the person from receiving essential public benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). A special needs trust can allow the person with special needs – the trust’s beneficiary -- to remain eligible for needs-based public benefits while at the same time preserving the assets to enhance the beneficiary’s quality of life.
When Congress passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act in 2014, it was a game-changer for families with special needs. For the first time there was a tax-advantaged way to put money aside for dependents with disabilities without compromising their eligibility for government benefits. And, unlike a special needs trust, an ABLE account can be managed and controlled by the beneficiary.