Special Needs Trust: Eligibility Requirements and Use Cases

One question we often get from personal injury attorneys with settling cases is: “Who is eligible for a special needs trust and who isn’t? And in what situations should I worry about it?”

A client receiving needs-based government benefits like Medicaid or SSI can lose these benefits once they receive a settlement check. One way to protect their eligibility for these benefits is through the use of a special needs trust.

How Can a Client Become Eligible for a Special Needs Trust?

The following are the eligibility requirements to create a special needs trust for the client:

  1. The client is aged 64 years old or younger.
  2. The client has been deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration.

If you have a client who has a disability and is 64 years old or younger, they are eligible to establish a special needs trust.

There was a previous requirement that the special needs trust had to be established by a parent, a grandparent, or the court, but this was recently changed. Assuming the client is mentally competent, they can establish their own special needs trust if they fit the requirement. 


If you’ve got a client that meets the requirements and wants to protect their Medicaid and SSI benefits when they receive a settlement, you might want to establish a special needs trust for them. It’s a perfect opportunity for clients to protect needed benefits while they receive the settlement funds in a trust that can give them peace of mind and improve their quality of life.

If you have any questions about special needs trust, feel free to give us a call.

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