By a vote of 383-22 on September 20, the House of Representatives approved a new bill that allows people with disabilities to set up their own special needs trusts.
“The Special Needs Trust Fairness and Medicaid Improvement Act corrects a discrepancy in current law that does not allow for a person with a disability to create his or her own Special Needs Trust,” Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) said in a news release. “This is a fundamental issue of equal protection under the law for those who are facing life-changing disease or disability.”
Pursuant to legislation passed in 1993, parents, grandparents and guardians of people with disabilities can create so-called “D-4-A” Special Needs Trusts to set aside funds for disability related expenses, without jeopardizing their eligibility for Medicaid and other means-tested programs, according to the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys.
The law, however, only allows people with disabilities to set up such trusts upon a petition to a court. Under the new measure, people with disabilities will be able to do so independently.
“Today was a major step forward in correcting this long-overdue fix and we look forward to working with the Senate to see the bill signed into law,” NAELA President Catherine Seal said in a news release.
A previous version of the bill unanimously passed the Senate last spring.