Special Needs Trusts are designed to supplement, not replace, the kind of basic support provided by government programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Special Needs Trusts pay for comforts and luxuries–special needs–that could not be paid for by public assistance funds.

When determining how the Special Needs Trust can be used, CoG staff consider the following questions:

1. Is the expenditure permitted by the trust terms? Is it prohibited by Medicaid or Social Security regulations?
2. Does the expenditure clearly benefit the trust’s beneficiary?
3. Is there enough money in the trust to make the proposed payment without seriously affecting the ability to provide other benefits in coming years?
4. Are there other sources of funds? If public benefits are available to provide the same items, the money ordinarily should not come from the trust.