There is is an Act currently going through Congress called the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (SNTFA). This Act is supported by many groups, including the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and the Special Needs Alliance. This Act is part of the Senate version of the Sustainable Growth Rate Repeal and Medicare Beneficiary Access Improvement Act of 2013. If SNTFA were enacted, it would affect thousands of Americans with disabilities.
Supplemental Needs Trusts or Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) were created as a legal entity in 1993. In a nutshell, the trust allows a disabled person who is receiving public benefits to protect some assets that might come to them, such as a settlement in a lawsuit that was a result of medical malpractice or an injury. The result is that this extra income can enhance a disabled person life whether it be through being able to hire a live-in nurse or extra money to see private doctors. Current law, only allows parents, grandparents, legal guardians of a court to set up such a trust.
This means that an individual without a grandparent or parent who is still living, but who is nonetheless legally competent, must hire an attorney and petition a court to allow such a trust. This is obviously more expensive and takes a longer time.
SNTs are very important tools for those persons with disabilities who want or need to remain on public benefits. In my own experience, I have had clients who must reside in a nursing home due to a severe disability and used supplemental funds for private rehabilitative care, or care at home that they otherwise could not afford, and/or supplement daily living expenses.
Without an SNT, these people would lose their public benefits such as Medicaid and SSI. Making sure that all disabled individuals, including veterans, who are competent can be able to establish their own SNT is only equitable and fair.
Please consider contacting your U.S. Congressman or Senator today. The website for the House of Representatives is www.house.gov, and for the Senate is www.senate.gov.