What Is a Pooled Trust?

by: Brian E. Barreira, Esq.

A pooled trust is a special needs trust where the funds of many people are pooled in one account for investment purposes. The overall goal of a pooled trust is to provide financial security to all people with disabilities, and a higher quality of life. A pooled trust can provide for the future needs of disabled persons while allowing them to remain eligible for government benefits such as MassHealth and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Placing money into it is not considered to be a disqualifying transfer under MassHealth or SSI law, and a pooled trust account can be funded even after a MassHealth application has been filed.

Some governmental benefit programs, including MassHealth, will only pay for a person’s primary living needs, such as food, housing, and basic medical care. Where MassHealth only allows a nursing home resident to keep $2,000 in assets, it can be difficult to maintain a dignified lifestyle in the nursing home. A pooled trust account can be used to pay for extra things for the nursing home resident.

A person with a disability who receives even a modest amount from a gift, inheritance or court settlement may no longer be eligible for MassHealth or other government benefits, but if those funds are quickly placed into a pooled trust, those government benefits can be preserved.

After the pooled trust account is funded, it is then the responsibility of the trust to ensure that the funds will not be spent in a way that could jeopardize the beneficiary’s eligibility for government benefits. The pooled trust can provide a source of funds that can be used to pay for supplemental needs. Some of the types of special, supplemental, non-support disbursements that are appropriate can be: health and dental treatment and equipment for which there are not funds otherwise available; rehabilitative and occupational therapy services; medical procedures, even though not medically necessary or lifesaving; medical insurance premiums; supplemental nursing care; supplemental dietary needs; diapers; eyeglasses; travel; entertainment; companionship; private case management; cultural experiences; vacations; movies; telephone service; television and cable equipment and services; radios; stereos; training and education programs; and reading and educational materials.

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