You have questions, we have answers.
Q: How long does it take to process a check request?
A: Generally speaking it takes about 3 to 4 business days. Request may be delayed or denied if they do not include correct or sufficient supporting documentation.
Q: Where do I send my Disbursement Request Form?
A: The form and attachments can either be faxed to 1-877-695-6444 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: I want to make a large purchase. Should I have my friend pay for it and then ask to be reimbursed?
A: Maybe, but your friend runs the risk that the request may be denied. We recommend that advocates discuss purchase plans prior to making the purchase and getting pre-approval.
Q: Can the trust pay for marijuana?
A: It depends. If you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal and have a prescription, yes. If you travel to a state where it is legal and a third party pays for it, or you use your credit card, we can pay or reimburse. If it is illegal for you to possess it, we cannot pay for it or reimburse a third party.
Q: Can the trust pay for a gambling debt?
A: Gambling can be a form of entertainment. If the gambling debt is legal, we may pay the debt. We cannot pay illegal gambling debts. We cannot fund a card or provide money for an account for the beneficiary to use to gamble.
Q: Can the trust pay for guns?
A: Yes. The beneficiary must be able to pass the required background checks and must not have a condition that could pose a danger to themselves or others.
Q: Can the trust pay for cigarettes and alcohol?
A: Yes. Alcohol may be considered as food for SSI purposes.
Q: Can the trust pay for a pet?
A: Yes. The trust can pay for a pet and pay any bills relating to the pet.
Q: Can the trust pay for plastic surgery?
A: Yes, within reason.
Q: My friend/family member has to drive me places in his/her car. Can the trust pay for their gas and maintenance of the vehicle?
A: No. The trust can only pay mileage based upon the IRS tables. That mileage rate should cover gas and wear and tear on the vehicle.
Q: Before joining the trust, I acquired debt in the form of credit card and student loans. Can the trust pay my old debt off?
Q: I pay tolls, train and bus fares. Can I be reimbursed for those expenses?
A: No. Reimbursements to the beneficiary are the same as distributing cash to the beneficiary and will result in a dollar for dollar reduction in benefits.
Q: I made $2,000 in purchases on my credit card, how much do I have to pay this month on my card?
A: We require that if the trust is paying the card, that the balance be paid off, except that amount which cannot be accounted.
Q: Do I have to submit all of my receipts even if I made the purchases on my credit card?
A: Yes. All receipts must be submitted. Missing receipts will reduce the amount requested.
Q: I have an old boat that is worth $0. I would like to fix it up so I can go sailing. Can the trust pay for the repairs?
A: Probably not, but it depends on the beneficiary’s benefits. Repairing the boat may make the boat a countable asset and make the beneficiary ineligible for benefits.
Q: I believe in alternative medical treatments. Will the trust pay for those treatments and medicines?
A: Generally yes.
Q: Do I have to send in a request each month to pay my phone bill if it is the same each month?
A: A disbursement request must be submitted for each payment, however advocates are permitted to submit request to prepay a bill for up to three months in advance.
Q: I can’t qualify for a credit card. What do I do?
A: The beneficiary must be able to qualify for a secured credit card. We can pay the security deposit, however the beneficiary/advocate must sign a promissory note and agree to return the security deposit to the trust.
Q: Will the trust pay for renovations to my house?
A: Yes. We recommend getting approval before allowing any work to begin. Licensed contractors must provide all labor unless the beneficiary does the work.
Q: I rent a house. Will the trust pay for renovations?
A: Probably not. It would likely be considered a transfer of resources. There may be exceptions to the rule, especially if the renovations are to make the property more accessible. The extent of the renovations and length of lease are important to that determination.
Q: Can the trust pay my cable, home phone and other housing expenses?
A: Yes. We can only pay the beneficiary’s proportionate share of the housing expenses.
Q: Can the trust pay for food, rent, mortgage or other shelter expenses?
A: Yes, however if the beneficiary receives SSI, payment will reduce beneficiaries’ SSI benefit by a third of the federal benefit rate.
Q: What are shelter expenses?
A: Rent, mortgage, electricity, gas, water, garbage, heating fuel, sewer, property taxes, and property insurance if required by mortgage.
Q: Can the trust pay for gifts for my caregivers?
A: No. Gifts are considered to be transfers of resources.
Q: I used to donate a portion of my income to my church. Can the trust make donations to my church?
A: No. It is a transfer of resource.
Q: How can I get more cash to spend?
A: The trust cannot distribute cash to a beneficiary. We suggest having the trust pay as many bills as possible for the beneficiary. This should free up the beneficiary’s SSI payment so that it can be used to make cash type purposes. A secured credit card is another option.
Q: Where will the checks be mailed?
A: We can mail the check directly to the vendor or we can mail it care of the advocate if it is preferred.
Q: Can the trust make purchases online and have items shipped directly to the trust beneficiary?
A: Yes, however there is an additional fee to do so.
Q: Can the trust pay for pre-paid burial/cremation services?
A: Yes, however there are limitations and restrictions. Please call to discuss prior to making arrangements.
Q: Can the trust pay for my vacation?
A: Yes, the trust can pay a beneficiary’s expenses to take a vacation.
Q: What types of expenses can the trust pay?
A: The trust can pay for airfare, hotel, food, souvenirs, rental car and other transportation.
Q: What if the rental car company or restaurant will not accept prepayment?
A: The beneficiary will have to use a credit card or a third party will have to pay. The trust can pay off the credit card or reimburse the third party.
Q: Can I get a gift card or receive cash and submit the receipts later?
A: No. Distributions like this will result in a dollar for dollar reduction in the trust beneficiary’s SSI payment.
Q: I cannot travel alone; can I pay for a caregiver to travel with me?
A: This is a very difficult problem. The Social Security Administration has voiced its opinion that paying for caregiver travel on vacation may lead to a violation of the sole benefit rule. You must document the medical need for the caregiver. Close family members may qualify, however SSA will give greater scrutiny. At this time, the trust cannot pay for parents to accompany their children. Documentation is extremely important when attempting to justify the expense of a trip. Please provide as much detail as possible. Insufficient detail will result in a delay in processing request. We may require a medical not regarding the need for assistance.
Q: Can the trust pay for a friend or family member to go with me?
A: No, unless your friend or family member is also your caregiver.
Q: What other things are taken into account in regard to vacations?
A: The cost of the vacation; Percentage of trust use for vacation; Future needs of the beneficiary; Is the beneficiary able to appreciate the vacation?; Is vacation for the sole benefit of the beneficiary?
Q: How long will it take to process the request?
A: It depends. Every situation is different. We encourage advocates to submit plans for vacation request more than a month out. Insufficient details about the trip will lead to delays. The rules change all the time so please doesn’t assume we will approve the same trip we did last year.
Q: What kind of car can I buy?
A: Anything that is reasonable.
Q: I have $50,000 in my trust and I want to spend it all on a car. Can I do that?
A: We will probably not approve that request.
Q: I don’t have a driver’s license. Can I put the car in the name of my friend or family member or have car titled jointly with another person?
A: No. It will be considered to be a transfer of resources and the trust beneficiary may lose their benefits. The beneficiary will have to get a specific policy that covers non-driver owners.
Q: Can the trust pay for my insurance, maintenance and gas?
Q: Can I sell or take a loan out on the car after the trust pays for it?
A: No. The trust will put a lien on the vehicle for the value of the purchase.
Q: What is the process for purchasing a car?
A: Call and we will send a form that must be completed. A contract for sale, proof of insurance and vehicle report for used vehicle must be supplied along with some additional information.
Payment to Caregivers
Q: Can the trust pay individuals to provide care to the trust beneficiary?
A: Yes, but there are restrictions, they must be on payroll. Call to get our help with this.
Q: Can the trust pay caregivers as independent contractors?
A: The answer is NO caregivers are employees of the trust beneficiary and must be on payroll.
Q: What is the difference between an independent contractor and employee?
A: It is somewhat over simplified, but an independent contractor has control of when they work, how they work, where they work and generally have little supervision. A caregiver is generally an employee because they are paid to be at a location to provide care in a fairly specific manner and are supervised for their work.
Q: Can an advocate be paid?
A: Yes. Please discuss the particulars with us. All fees charged must be reasonable.
Q: So what is the big deal if I am an employee or independent contractor?
A: The trust does not have to withhold Medicare & Social Security taxes for independent contractors. The independent contractor is also responsible for paying the employer’s share of Medicare & Social Security taxes. Employers may be required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Q: What if I only need to pay someone temporarily to take care of me?
A: There are limited exceptions when payments may be paid to a caregiver on a temporary bases. There is no responsibility to report to the IRS if the employee/contractor is expected to earn less than $1,900. If the employee/contractor does end up being paid more, a 1099 will be issued and reported to the IRS.
Q: Do I need to locate a payroll company?
A: No, we have a payroll company that we use. Please let us know that you intend to hire a caregiver and we will send you the enrollment documents.
Distributions From A Trust Of A Minor
“Parents have a duty to support their minor children in a manner consistent with the parent’s standard of living. Parents are generally expected to pay for their children’s food, clothing and shelter needs. Exceptions may be made if the parent’s income is not sufficient or if they are unable to earn a livable wage. Parents in these situations should apply for other government assistance prior to using their child’s trust to pay for basic support needs. While it is unfortunate, the sole benefit rule prevents trust funds from being used for the benefit of other family members. Please see the below questions and answers for further clarification.”
Q: Can I use my child’s trust to pay the household’s rent?
A: Generally no. It may be possible to petition the court for approval. Without court approval, the max that would be considered would be that child’s proportionate share. If four people live in the apartment, the trust could possibly pay for ¼ of the rent and other household expenses. If the child is receiving a cash benefit from Social Security, that benefit should be used to pay basic household expenses.
Q: Can we use the trust funds to take the family to Disney?
A: No. The trust may only pay for the trust beneficiary’s expense. A caregiver who is generally employed to care for the child may also be paid to attend. Paying a parent’s expenses may not be allowed. Transportation and lodging may be paid in a proportionate amount.
Q: Can the trust pay for renovations to a home I own to make it more accessible?
A: Generally yes. Each request is always evaluated on an individual basis so a plan should be submitted and approved prior to work being started or payment made.
Q: Can the trust pay for medical supplies not covered by Medicaid or other program?
Q: Can the trust pay a vehicle to transport my child to and from the doctors?
A: It is possible, but it would likely require court approval. The parent must also show that using alternative methods of transportation would be more costly or unavailable.
DISCLAIMER: CPT does not provide legal advice. Answers to these questions are generalized and because all cases are different and each state has different laws pertaining to trusts, these answers may not apply to your particular case. Please seek the advice of an attorney or contact us with questions pertaining to your individual case.