Thought Leadership

Special Needs Trusts & ABLE Accounts

Special Needs Trusts.  This is a form of a Supplemental Needs Trust which is established by a disabled individual for assets or benefits they have received while on public assistance. Prior law had required that a Special Needs Trust could only be set up by a parent, grandparent, guardian or court.  On December 13, 2016, President Obama signed the Cures Act which includes the SNT Fairness Act and allows special needs trusts to be created and provide benefits for the individual that may already be receiving public assistance (primarily supplemental security income “SSI” and Medicaid benefits).

ABLE Accounts.  The Minnesota Department of Human Services announced on January 31, 2017, that ABLE accounts are now available in Minnesota.  They allow up to $14,000 per year to be set aside in a fund that can be used for any needs that the beneficiary may have over and above any medical assistance, SSI, or other public benefits they may be receiving.  The intention is that such accounts are not considered a “resource” for such public assistance programs.  The accounts can be set up for individuals with significant disabilities that had an onset before turning age 26.  If the beneficiary is not receiving SSI and/or SSDI, but still meets the age of onset disability requirement, they may still be eligible if they meet Social Security’s definition and criteria regarding significant functional limitations, and receive a letter of certification from a licensed physician.  For beneficiaries who developed their disability at a later age, supplemental needs trusts (funded by a third party) or a special needs trust (funded by beneficiary’s own resources) remain the alternative.


KC Ahrens
Phone: (952) 746-2157