Special Needs Trust

Los Angeles Special Education Attorney

A special needs trust allows a disabled person to receive an inheritance or proceeds from a lawsuit without losing public benefits such as Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), Medi-Cal, and other programs on which eligibility is based on financial need including assets. The money in the special needs trust is used to supplement income and support from government programs and can only be spent on certain things. Special education attorney Fred J. Fleming can help you establish a special needs trust for your disabled child.

Why a Special Needs Trust is Important

Public assistance programs are based on financial need. If your child inherits money or other assets outside of a special needs trust, then he/she can lose his/her benefits. The inheritance will go to pay for your child’s needs and may be used up very quickly, leaving your child destitute and without public benefits. At that point, your child can reapply for public assistance, but may have difficulty getting the benefits back and may not receive the same help as he/she did before.

The special needs trust protects your child’s eligibility for public benefits.

Similarly, if your child is likely to receive proceeds from any type of lawsuit, a special needs trust must be established first so that the money can go into the trust and protect your child’s rights.

How Special Needs Trust Funds Can be Used

The money in a special needs trust cannot be used for expenses that are covered by government benefits. For example, if SSI is paying for rent, then the special needs trust cannot be used to pay for housing. Similarly, if your child is on Medi-Cal, then the special needs trust can only be used to pay for medical expenses that Medi-Cal will not pay. Other expenses which a special needs trust can pay for include:

  • Transportation
  • Furniture
  • Entertainment
  • Travel and vacations
  • Computer
  • Insurance
  • Personal care attendant
  • Rehabilitation
  • Athletic training
  • Equipment


The special needs trust must be managed by a trustee. The money cannot be directly given to the disabled person to spend. The trustee distributes the money on the disabled person’s behalf. When the trust is created it can include a provision that the trustee must account for spending.

If you would like to establish a special needs trust for your child, or learn more about your legal options for helping a disabled child, the Law Office of Fred J. Fleming can help. Please contact us online to learn more and schedule your initial consultation today.

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Any description of previous success is not intended to and does not imply success regarding your potential lawsuit or hearing.