Special Needs Trust Fairness Act Reintroduced
On February 3, 2015, U.S. Representatives Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act of 2015 (H.R. 670, S. 349) in their respective Houses. If passed, this bill will allow disabled individuals with the mental capacity to create their own Special Needs Trusts without needless legal or financial barriers.
Special Needs Trusts provide individuals supplemental funds for necessary care or services that enhance quality of life without compromising his or her eligibility for public benefits. Currently, due to a minor omission by the authors of existing legislation, only a parent, grandparent, legal guardian or a court can establish a Special Needs Trust. This complicates creating trusts for assets belonging to individuals with special needs, such as property acquired through a litigation settlement, retirement plan, life insurance policy or inheritance. This has led to thousands of people left with the decision to choose between their much-needed public benefits or a small monthly income that would not meet their basic needs.
Legislation such as this empowers those with disabilities to enhance their quality of life. As Representative Glenn Thompson explained, “The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act of 2015 is a fundamental issue of equal protection under the law. Currently, individuals facing life changing disease or disabilities are not treated fairly and this bill will begin to reverse those policies.”
We will be watching this bill closely and will update you on its progress.