Supplemental Needs Trusts for People with Disabilities: The Development of a Private Trust in the Public Interest
51 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2010
Date Written: Fall 2000
This Article examines the development of supplemental needs trusts and their role in meeting the needs of people who require additional support that are not adequately met by government benefits. Supplemental needs trusts are part of a complementary partnership between government benefits and private wealth that reflects the eligibility requirements of Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid, among other programs.
Throughout its history, the trust has been a subversive tool that has furthered social justice by providing for the needs of people who are subject to the harsh dictates of the dominant legal structure. As part of that tradition, the supplemental needs trust emerged from a mix of judicial and legislative developments and broader societal changes.
Supplemental needs trusts promote a higher level of support and care to the beneficiary of the trust than is available from government benefits alone. An aging society, the prevalence and evolving social construct of “disability”, and the structure and limitations of the health insurance system in the United States have made the supplemental needs trust an important tool that continues to evolve.
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