When establishing a Special Needs Trust, it is vital to know what government/public benefits an individual is receiving. It is extremely important for the trustee to know what benefits a beneficiary is receiving due to the sole responsibility of ensuring that the specific benefits being utilized are not jeopardized.

There are entitlement government benefits as well as means-tested benefits. Entitled benefits include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Medicare. Means-tested benefits include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California), these benefits have very restrict requirements regarding resources and income. There are specific rules that must be followed by the trustee depending on which benefits an individual receives. For example, if an individual receives both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid (Medi-Cal), the trustee must adhere to the SSI rules and regulations found in the Program Operations Manual System (POMS).

If an individual is unsure of the specific benefits that he or she is receiving the best solution is to contact or visit his or her local SSA Office based on the zip code in which he or she resides. Once an individual visits the local SSA office or contacts his or her local SSA office he or she is able to request from a representative, a summary of benefits which will entail what benefits the individual is receiving.

If you are unsure of which benefits you or your client is receiving visit the website below to get contact information for the local SSA Office:
https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp