O’Donnell, Weiss & Mattei, P.C.

Special Needs Trusts

Planning For The Future Requires Care

If a loved one has special needs, you may be familiar with public benefits and how they work, and you may think that these can last as long as your loved one needs them. However, public benefits are limited as to what they can provide. Typically essential benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid provide only for the bare necessities, such as food, housing and clothing.


How A Special Needs Trust Can Help

The purpose of a special needs trust is to supplement but not to supplant the public benefits that the individual with a disability is already receiving or could potentially receive. There are three types of special needs trusts:

  • Third-party special needs trusts
  • Self-settled special needs trusts
  • Pooled special needs trusts

A special needs trust may be established when the person who has a disability wants to begin utilizing public benefits but may have more assets than are permitted. A special needs trust can also be established when a person who is already receiving benefits subsequently receives money that raises their assets above their allowable resource limit, such as money from a lawsuit settlement or an inheritance.

Parents establishing a special needs trust for their child should be aware that funds from the trust must not be distributed directly to the disabled child. Instead, the distributions must be made to third parties who provide goods and services for use and enjoyment by the disabled beneficiary. Examples of what the funds from a special needs trust can be used for include:

  • Education
  • Out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses
  • The purchase of a vehicle
  • Recreational activities
  • Trips or vacations
  • Entertainment
  • Purchase of goods and services that add pleasure and quality to life such as a laptop or other electronics, internet service, furniture, etc.
  • Professional therapy and behavior management, except for that care that would be provided by Medicaid
Meet Our Special Needs Trusts Attorney

Rebecca A. Hobbs, CELA*


  • Elder Law
  • Medicaid Planning
  • Special Needs Planning
  • Guardianships
  • Wills & Estate Planning
  • Trusts
  • Probate & Estate Administration
  • Veterans Benefits

Take The First Step: Contact Us Today

A special needs trust, also known as a supplemental needs trust, is just one aspect of special needs planning. These trusts are established to provide for the immediate, as well as the future, financial needs of a person who has a disability. To speak with an attorney who is experienced in these matters, contact our office today at 610-323-2800, or send us an online message.