Legal Authority

Federal laws that allow the use of a Pooled Special Needs Trust. 


Means tested benefits are benefits available to people with minimal income and minimal assets. If a person’s income or assets exceed the specified limit, he or she will not be eligible for the benefit.


Two primary examples of means tested benefits are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. Adults are eligible for SSI if they have a disability that prevents them from working and earning a self-sufficient wage, and they do not have more than the allotted amount of assets. Minor children (under age 18) may be eligible for SSI if they have severe functional limitations from a physical or mental condition.


The federal Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA ’93) is a federal law that affects how people with disabilities can maintain a trust and still qualify for Medicaid. The Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 is a federal law that affects how disabled individuals can have a trust and still qualify for SSI as seen in 42 U.S.C. §1396p(d)(4)(C). Both laws allow many people with disabilities to place their own money into a trust and become, or remain, eligible for Medicaid and SSI. This is accomplished through a Pooled Special Needs Trust.


When properly designed, a Pooled Special Needs Trust enables disabled individuals to keep or remain eligible for Medicaid and/or SSI benefits, although the level of benefits may be reduced in some circumstances.