Irrevocability of Special Needs Trusts: The Tangled Web that is Woven When English Feudal Law is Imported into Modern Determinations of Medicaid Eligibility

37 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2012  

Mary F. Radford

Georgia State University - College of Law

Clarissa Bryan

Georgia State University, School of Law, Students

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Often personal injury victims who will need costly medical assistance throughout their lives will direct any settlement or judgment they receive into a “Special Needs Trust” (SNT). Federal law allows these individuals to use the trust funds to supplement the medical assistance that is available from basic Medicaid benefits so long as the SNT is an irrevocable trust. Recently, the Social Security Administration (SAA) has disqualified certain trusts, even though they are specifically designated as irrevocable trusts, by applying arcane doctrines from English feudal law, such as the Doctrine of Worthier Title. The article explains these doctrines and examines examples of inconsistent or faulty application of the doctrines by the SSA. The article concludes with a recommendation that the SSA cease its administratively burdensome and at times inappropriate attempts to apply these doctrines and adopt a simple rule that respects that a SNT that is designated as “irrevocable” is in fact irrevocable.

Keywords: trust, special needs trust, personal injury, tort, settlement, judgment, Medicaid, health law, Social Security, Doctrine of Worthier Title, English law, irrevocable trust

JEL Classification: K13, K19, K32, K39

Suggested Citation

Radford, Mary F. and Bryan, Clarissa, Irrevocability of Special Needs Trusts: The Tangled Web that is Woven When English Feudal Law is Imported into Modern Determinations of Medicaid Eligibility (2012). NAELA J., v. 8, p. 1, 2012; Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2034455

Mary F. Radford (Contact Author)

Georgia State University - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

Clarissa Bryan

Georgia State University, School of Law, Students ( email )

Atlanta, GA
United States

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