Category: Newsworthy Notes

On July 13, 2016, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act, a variation of a bill that the United States Senate already unanimously approved on September 9, 2015. The legislation allows individuals with disabilities to create their own first-party special needs trusts without having to rely on others. Under the current law, only a parent, grandparent, legal guardian of an individual with a disability or the court can create this kind of special needs trust. This restrictive provision, which many believe was the result of a drafting error, forced countless disabled individuals without a parent or grandparent, or whose parents or grandparents were unwilling or unable to help them, to petition the courts to establish trusts despite otherwise being capable of creating the trusts themselves. In many cases, the individuals were unable to create these important trusts which would have importantly helped them qualify for much needed government benefits, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act is an important piece of legislation which fixes this error in the Social Security Act. This is a significant step forward in the protection of individuals with disabilities. The House of Representatives returns in September and we’re hopeful that because of bipartisan support for the Act, it will receive a vote. If the House passes the Act, then the Senate must pass the same bill.

For information about attorney Ronald Fatoullah and his Elder Law practice in New York, visit the Wellness Village and click on RONALD A. FATOULLAH. He has been a member of the Wellness Village since its inception in May 2011.

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Updated: August 16, 2017