Good News for Beneficiaries of Special Needs Trusts

Last year the Social Security Administration (SSA) specifically clarified that True Link Cards (make clickable to ) can be used to make disbursements from Special Needs Trusts (SNT) for beneficiaries who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

As long as the correct card settings are in place according to the guidelines in SSA’s Program Operations Manual System (POMS), True Link Cards provided by a trustee to SNT beneficiaries are not countable as income or as a resource for SSI eligibility.

You can read the full text of the SSA’s update here.  Make “here” clickable to

This means that a beneficiary of a Special Needs Trust can enjoy the independence of using a reloadable Visa card while still protecting their benefits.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Special Needs Trust, not the beneficiary, must be the account owner and administrator.

The card should not be used to take out cash or then the amount will be considered cash income, which can jeopardize SSI benefits.

The card should not be used to buy food or shelter, as then this would be counted by SSA as In-Kind Support and Maintenance (ISM), which can reduce the amount of your SSI benefit by as much as 1/3.

If the card is used at places that sell food or shelter, like Walmart, Target, or drugstores, receipts should be collected for all purchases.

A True Link Card can be set up with the spending restrictions that a beneficiary needs.  Therefore, a beneficiary can confidently and independently use a True Link Card that is owned and administered by the trust or trustee and set up to block cash withdrawals and purchases of food or shelter. Purchases attempted at merchants or in categories that are blocked will be denied.

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