OBRA Pooled Trust Offered Exclusively by CPT Institute: A New Chapter in California Special Needs Planning

By: William Lindahl, Executive Director

Special needs planning is a critical endeavor for individuals with disabilities, designed to ensure their financial security and access to essential care. With the upcoming changes in California’s Medi-Cal program, including the removal of the asset test effective January 1, 2024, there has been a noteworthy transformation in special needs planning strategies. Among these developments is the introduction of Pooled OBRA 93 Trusts, which are offered exclusively by CPT Institute, providing new opportunities and considerations for individuals and their families.

From Asset-Based to Income-Based Eligibility: A Paradigm Shift

In the past, Medi-Cal eligibility in California hinged on stringent asset thresholds. To maintain eligibility for crucial health coverage, individuals with disabilities had to meticulously manage their assets. Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) were instrumental in preserving assets while ensuring eligibility. With the forthcoming shift to income-based eligibility, understanding the intricacies of Medi-Cal categories and income regulations becomes even more vital to secure ongoing benefits.

Exclusive OBRA Pooled Trusts by CPT Institute

OBRA Pooled Trusts, named after federal legislation but distinct in their application under California law, differ from conventional SNTs. These trusts, available solely through CPT Institute, offer greater flexibility by eliminating the requirement for state reimbursement for benefits used, presenting a substantial benefit for estate planning purposes.

Essential Considerations for OBRA Pooled Trusts Through CPT Institute

When evaluating the option of an OBRA Pooled Trust provided by CPT Institute, it is imperative to consider the specific nuances of special needs planning. Planners must possess comprehensive knowledge of the beneficiary’s Medi-Cal enrollment details to prevent any risk to their eligibility. OBRA Pooled Trusts prioritize direct asset ownership but also come with intricate limitations that require meticulous attention.

Estate Planning and Medi-Cal Estate Recovery Implications

Strategic estate planning continues to play an integral role in special needs planning. Instruments like Revocable Living Trusts can circumvent Medi-Cal’s estate recovery mandates, thereby protecting the individual’s estate from claims seeking repayment for medical costs. With an OBRA Pooled Trust, there is no state lien recovery requirement.

Case Studies: Opting for CPT Institute’s OBRA Pooled Trusts

The advent of OBRA Pooled Trusts, exclusively offered by CPT Institute, introduces novel considerations for special needs planning. For example, an adult with disabilities who receives a significant settlement might find an OBRA Pooled Trust advantageous if they are capable of managing their own affairs, allowing them greater control over their funds without the obligation of a state payback.

On the other hand, for minors with special needs or adults with limited decision-making abilities, a third-party SNT remains the strategy of choice to safeguard assets and maintain eligibility for public assistance programs.


The modifications to Medi-Cal’s eligibility requirements, particularly the rollout of OBRA Pooled Trusts exclusively by CPT Institute, mark a pivotal progression in the realm of special needs planning in California. As we adapt to this evolving environment, it is essential for stakeholders to remain well-informed and explore all the tools at their disposal to devise optimal plans for those with special needs. With judicious planning and specialized guidance, CPT Institute’s OBRA Pooled Trusts can significantly enhance the lives of Californians with disabilities.