What is the connection between public benefits and personal resources (assets and income)?

Many individuals with disabilities receive SSI, a monthly monetary allowance that pays for food and shelter and usually makes the person eligible for Medicaid.  Medicaid pays the cost of health services for people with special needs who demonstrate a financial need.  Adults are eligible for SSI if they have a disability that prevents them from working and earning a self-sufficient wage, and they do not have more than a certain amount of assets.  Children, who are minors, are eligible for SSI if they have “marked and severe functional limitations” from a physical or mental condition.

In order to be eligible for SSI and Medicaid, a person cannot have more than $2,000 (current in 2016) in assets that can be converted to cash.

Establishing the First-Party Pooled Special Needs Trust or Third-Party Pooled Special Needs Trust will preserve funds that can be used for the benefit of an individual with special needs, without jeopardizing SSI and Medicaid, as the funds in these trusts are not counted as income or assets.