Throughout Southern California
View Our Practice Areas

Congressional Testimony on Special Needs Trust

On September 18, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health in favor of the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (H.R. 670) heard testimony from Richard A. Courtney, President of the Special Needs Alliance (SNA) and principal in the Courtney Elder Law Associates section of Frascogna Courtney, PLLC. The bill would make it legal for mentally capable adults with disability to establish "Special Needs Trusts" (SNT) on their own behalf. SNTs are used by families and guardians to protect the eligibility of disabled individuals for asset-based programs like SSI and Medicaid, while continuing to own assets. On September 9th, the US Senate unanimously approved the same bill.

In his testimony before the Subcommittee, Richard Courtney made it very clear with his statement that the original legislation that led to the creation of Special Needs Trusts, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, was flawed. He said the law "included a drafting oversight that seems to assume that a person with disabilities lacks the requisite mental capacity to enter into a contract... We believe it was ... not the intent of Congress to deny a basic right to individuals with disabilities."

In its report on the testimony, The (Jackson, MS) Clarion-Ledger's "Courtney testifies before Congress on behalf of persons with disabilities," said that, at present, special needs trusts funded with assets of an individual with disabilities must be created for that individual by his or her parent, grandparent, legal guardian or a court. Because of this requirement, adults with no living parents or grandparents and no guardian are forced to petition the court to create a special needs trust.

Courtney based his remarks on both his professional experience as a special needs and elder law attorney, as well as his experience as the father of a daughter with cerebral palsy and learning disabilities. Speaking of daughter Melanie, he noted that she needs and is receiving attendant care under a Medicaid waiver program. Because the cost of her care and services is expensive, she must rely on programs such as Medicaid, as do many persons with disabilities.

Right now the law says that she can't create her own trust if she were to receive an inheritance or settlement-so she could forfeit her Medicaid waiver benefits that pay her attendant to her each day for a few hours.

An SNT would allow Melanie to pay for additional health care that's not covered by Medicaid, in addition to basics like clothing, transportation, and furniture.

Talk with an elder law and special needs attorney if you have questions about SNTs.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Us For A Response

Find Out The Difference That Experience And Expertise Makes

Get the peace of mind that you deserve. First, attend a seminar. This will entitle you to a free initial consultation and a discounted estate planning fee. To learn more about our services or sign up for a seminar, contact us online or call us at 866-402-1805. We have offices in Torrance, Orange, Newport Beach, Pasadena and Woodland Hills.

Questions? Contact Us.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Call Now For A Free Consultation: 866-402-1805
  • ${site.data.firmName}${SEMFirmNameAlt}
  • Main Office: Torrance

    Torrance Office
    990 West 190th Street
    Suite 500
    Torrance, CA 90502

    Toll Free: 866-402-1805
    Map & Directions

    Orange Office
    333 City Boulevard West
    17th Floor
    Orange, CA 92660

    Toll Free: 866-402-1805
    Map & Directions

    Newport Beach Office
    5000 Birch Street
    Suite 8000
    Newport Beach, CA 92660

    Toll Free: 866-402-1805
    Map & Directions

    Pasadena Office
    790 East Colorado Boulevard
    9th Floor
    Pasadena, CA 91101

    Toll Free: 866-402-1805
    Map & Directions

    Woodland Hills Office
    5850 Canoga Avenue
    4th Floor
    Woodland Hills, CA 91367

    Toll Free: 866-402-1805
    Map & Directions

    Office map
Check out The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis on Yelp
Check out Kavesh Minor & Otis on Yelp
Check out The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis - Orange on Yelp
Check out The Law Firm of Kavesh Minor & Otis - Pasadena on Yelp