CDR’s New Community Supplemental Needs Trust

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Jennifer Smouse

Since I started working at the Center for Disability Rights in April 2007 as the Director of Finance, I have been learning about the wide variety of programs and services that are offered to members of the disability community by CDR. Most recently I have had the opportunity to become involved in a project that has resulted in the creation of the Center for Disability Rights, Inc. Community Supplemental Needs Trust.

A Supplemental Needs Trust enables a person with a physical or mental disability or an individual with a chronic or acquired illness to have held in Trust for his or her benefit an unlimited amount of assets. These assets are not considered countable assets for purposes of qualification for governmental benefits, including Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This means that the monthly Medicaid spend down requirement that some individuals with disabilities have to pay before they can qualify to receive Medicaid benefits can instead be put into a Supplemental Needs Trust. In doing so, the individual becomes eligible to receive Medicaid services without having to pay their monthly spend down to the Medicaid Office.

Monthly contributions must be made to the Supplemental Needs Trust that are equal to or more than the amount of the person’s Medicaid spend down payment. Once payment is made into the Trust, the individual will be eligible to receive Medicaid services without making any further monthly Medicaid spend down payments. The contributions that have been deposited in the Trust account can be used to pay for the person’s food, clothing, shelter and health care costs.

Supplemental needs trusts are compliant with provisions of United States (federal and state) law and are designed to provide benefits to, and protect the assets of, persons with physical or mental disabilities and still allow such persons to be qualified for and receive governmental health care benefits under the Medicaid welfare program, which includes the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP), Traumatic Brain Injury and Developmental Disability programs offered by the Center for Disability Rights.

A Nonprofit Pooled Income Special Needs Trust is authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 1396(p) (d) (4) (C). The individual must have a disability under the Social Security definition. Unlike other exempt trusts which can be administered by a private trustee who is an individual (such as a family member), the Pooled Income Trust is run by a nonprofit association (in our case the Center for Disability Rights), and a separate Sub-Trust account is maintained for each individual beneficiary. All Sub-Trust accounts are pooled for investment and management purposes. A Master Trust agreement signed by both co-trustees (in our case CDR and a local financial institution) documents all of the terms and conditions of the Community Supplemental Needs Trust. Each Sub-Trust account in the pooled trust must be created by a parent, grandparent, guardian or court, but it can also be created by the individual with a disability (beneficiary).

In the case of the Center for Disability Rights, Inc. Community Supplemental Needs Trust, a Joinder agreement needs to be completed by or on behalf of the beneficiary in order to set up their Sub-Trust account. Upon the death of the beneficiary, the balance will be retained in the Trust on behalf of the nonprofit association to further the purposes of the trust.

Center for Disability Rights, Inc. Community Supplemental Needs Trust is available to all individuals who qualify under Section 1614 (a) (3) of the Social Security Act. This includes people who are 65 years old and older as well as younger people. The individual doesn’t need to be receiving services from CDR to set up a Sub-Trust account in Center for Disability Rights, Inc. Community Supplement Needs Trust. However, I would definitely encourage you to review the wide variety of services offered by CDR to people of any age with any type of disability.

If you or a friend, family member or acquaintance have a disability and could benefit from opening up a Sub-Trust account or if you would like to find out more detailed information about Center for Disability Rights, Inc. Community Supplemental Needs Trust, please contact Melanie Menough, Director of Consumer Personal Assistance Program at Center for Disability Rights. Melanie’s email is