How Special Needs Trust Funds Can be Used
After a special needs trust is set up, the day-to-day operations are left to the trust representative and the trustee, Alabama Family Trust.  Fortunately, new representatives do not have to learn how to use SNT funds by painful trial and error. 

Feel free to forward this post to any of your clients who are new or prospective SNT representatives or beneficiaries' families and refer them to Alabama Family Trust's newsletter and blog archives for more information.

At Alabama Family Trust, all special needs trusts distribution requests are reviewed and approved by the staff and board of trustees to help ensure that trust beneficiaries’ means-tested government benefits are not endangered.

Items that Enhance Beneficiaries’ Lives but are not Covered by Medicaid
  • Differential for private room in nursing homeAlthough costs vary throughout Alabama, a private room costs $10 - $15 per day more than a shared room.  This seeming small amount adds up to $3,650 to $5,475 a year and can make a world of difference in the 24/7 comfort of a beneficiary.
  • Therapies not covered by MedicaidMany therapies that can make a big difference in a beneficiary’s quality of life are not funded by Medicaid for individuals age 21 and older but may be funded through trust funds if approved by the Alabama Family Trust board.  Examples include sitter services, respiratory, speech, and occupational therapies as well as dental care, hearing services, and recreational or experimental therapies (and associated supplies, equipment, and drugs).
  • Education, including tuition, books, and suppliesSo many online training options are available now such as art classes, MasterClasses, and AARP’s Stay Sharp program with wonderful options for keeping beneficiaries’ minds active and well-exercised.
  • Electronic equipment such as cell phones, computers, television, cable TV, video gamesEspecially with the pandemic lockdowns, tablets and cell phones have become crucial to many beneficiaries in skilled care facilities.  Facility staff members can be very helpful in setting up video calls so that family members can stay in touch. Music can offer connection and pleasure to beneficiaries, and with online concerts available, facility lockdowns are not a barrier.
  • Hobby suppliesBeneficiaries may enjoy jigsaw puzzles, painting, crocheting, knitting, large print books, scrapbooking, and more.  If the beneficiary enjoys bird watching, trust funds can even be used to pay for birdseed and feeders.
  • Clothing Nothing makes a person feel like themselves more than their favorite clothes and even new clothes in their favorite colors and materials. One representative, Dana, commented that her mother said Dana shouldn’t spend so much on new clothes for her (which the mother loved). However, those reservations went away when Dana explained that her mother was buying the clothes herself with her Alabama Family Trust funds and that Dana was just her personal shopper.  The need for independence runs deep in many people.
  • Personal hygiene products such as shampoo, lotion, adult diapersBeneficiaries may have favorite perfumes, colognes, and lotions that make them feel like their normal selves. Some beneficiaries may even have mild allergies to certain personal care ingredients, and family members are the best ones to know what to avoid.
  • Magazines/Newspaper subscriptionsBeneficiaries often enjoy keeping up with the news from back home with subscriptions to papers, magazines, or online subscriptions.
  • FurnitureA favorite or new chair, recliner, or bed frame can make a beneficiary feel more at home after a move to a skilled care facility.
  • Household goods such as bedding, curtainsMedicaid pays for a basic mattress, but with trust funds paying for an upgraded mattress, you can improve a beneficiary’s quality of sleep as well as quality of life.
  • Pre-paid plan for funeral and burial expenses These expenses can be paid by trust funds but ONLY if paid while the beneficiary is still alive.  Once a beneficiary dies, special needs trust funds are frozen.
Unfortunately, if funds are spent on items that Medicaid covers, the trust cannot reimburse for those expenses so stay aware of what is covered and what isn’t. Here's a short article that was published in the June 2019 Birmingham Parent magazine covering this issue.

If you questions, you can learn more from Alabama Family Trust’s blog posts or call Alabama Family Trust at 205-313-3915 or 1-844-238-4630 toll-free.

Copyright © 2020 Alabama Family Trust All rights reserved. 
Direct: 205-313-3915  |   Toll-free: 1-844-238-4630
2820 Columbiana Road, Suite 103 Vestavia Hills, AL 35216

The Alabama Family Trust staff is working remotely due to the pandemic, but we are available with only a phone call or email.

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