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Special Needs Trust: Permitted Distributions


A special needs trust can pay for many things without affecting the beneficiary’s eligibility for government benefits such as Supplemental l Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid.

The following list of generally permissible distributions from a special needs trust which will not reduce or eliminate SSI is not exhaustive. Distributions for food or shelter (“in kind support and maintenance”) will result in about a 1/3rd maximum reduction in SSI.

  • Automobile/van
  • Accounting services
  • Acupuncture/acupressure
  • Appliances (TV, microwave, stove, refrigerator, washer/dryer)
  • Bottled water or water service
  • Bus pass/public transportation costs
  • Camera, film, recorder and tapes, development of film
  • Clothing
  • Clubs and club dues (sports clubs, book clubs, health clubs, service clubs, zoo, advocacy groups, museums)
  • Computer hardware, software, programs, and Internet service
  • Conferences
  • Cosmetics
  • Courses or classes (academic or recreational), including books and supplies
  • Curtains, blinds, and drapes
  • Dental work not covered by Medicaid, including anesthesia
  • Down payment on home or security deposit on apartment
  • Dry cleaning and/or laundry services
  • Education expenses including tuition and related costs
  • Elective surgery
  • Eye glasses
  • Fitness equipment
  • Funeral expenses
  • Furniture, home furnishings
  • Gasoline and/or maintenance for automobile
  • Haircuts/salon services
  • Hobby supplies
  • Holiday decorations, parties, dinner dances, holiday cards
  • Home alarm and/or monitoring/response system
  • Home improvements, repairs, and maintenance (not covered by Medicaid), including tools to perform home improvements, repairs, and maintenance by homeowner
  • Home purchase (to the extent not covered by benefits)
  • House cleaning/maid services
  • Insurance (automobile, home and/or possessions)
  • Legal Fees
  • Linens and towels
  • Magazine and newspaper subscriptions
  • Massage
  • Musical instruments, lessons and music
  • Nonfood grocery items (laundry soap, bleach, fabric softener, deodorant, dish soap, hand and body soap, personal hygiene products, paper towels, napkins, Kleenex, toilet paper, and household cleaning products)
  • Over-the-counter medications (including vitamins and herbs)
  • Personal assistance services not covered by Medicaid
  • Pet and pet supplies, veterinary services
  • Physician specialists if not covered by Medicaid
  • Private counseling if not covered by Medicaid
  • Repair services (e.g., for appliances, automobile, bicycle, household, or fitness equipment)
  • Spa Treatments
  • Snow removal/landscaping/gardening and lawn services
  • Sporting goods/equipment/uniforms/team pictures
  • Stationery, stamps, and cards
  • Storage units
  • Taxicab
  • Telephone service and equipment, including cell phone, pager
  • Therapy (physical, occupational, speech) not covered by Medicaid
  • Tickets to concerts or sporting events (for beneficiary and an accompanying companion, if necessary)
  • Transportation (automobile, motorcycle, bicycle, moped, bus passes, insurance, vehicle license fees, gas, car repairs)
  • Tuition and expenses connected with education
  • Utility bills (satellite TV, cable TV, telephone—but not gas, water, or electricity)
  • Vacation (including paying for a personal assistant to accompany the beneficiary, if necessary)


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