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A special needs trust can pay for many things without affecting the beneficiary’s eligibility for government benefits such as Supplemental 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)

It’s never too early to plan for your future.

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