Government programs such as Medicaid and Supplementary Security Income make it easier for people with disabilities and senior citizens to meet their basic needs. However, there are certain situations where these individuals may need to rely on a pooled trust to secure government assistance. That may be the case for you or a loved one. If so, learning more about that financial mechanism is in your best interests.
Continue below to understand the concept of a pooled income trust better. After reviewing the information in this article, you can determine if joining a pooled trust makes sense for your current financial situation.
What Is a Pooled Trust?
Before discussing how a pooled trust could work for your current situation, let’s first use this opportunity to define it. A pooled trust is a variation of an irrevocable trust. As you might have guessed, an irrevocable trust is a type of fiduciary relationship between a trustor and trustee that you cannot easily change.
Irrevocable trusts are considered superior to their revocable counterparts in some respects because they allow individuals to shelter assets and limit estate growth for tax purposes. These benefits set up an irrevocable trust, which is quite useful, but they are likely not the ones you are most interested in if you are considering a pooled trust.
Instead, you are probably considering a pooled trust because it may allow you to access essential government benefits. Some New Yorkers may make too much money to qualify for government benefits but still not earn enough to cover their basic expenses. They may end up in a more difficult situation because of the eligibility requirements imposed by those government programs.
How should New Yorkers go about resolving that situation? That is where the pooled trust comes in.
A New Yorker looking to qualify for government benefits can deposit their surplus earnings into the pooled income trust. After making that deposit, the resident can now meet the financial limits for whichever program they seek benefits from. Pooled trust members do not lose their surplus earnings.
What Are the Other Benefits of Enrolling in a Pooled Trust?
Gaining access to government assistance and maintaining your monthly income are the big benefits of enrolling in a pooled trust. That said, there are other reasons why you should strongly consider joining one. Those additional reasons are in this section of the article.
Pay for Bills Using Your Surplus Earnings
There are limits on how you can use the money you deposit in a pooled trust. Thankfully, those restrictions do not prevent you from paying bills. You can use your excess earnings to cover bills as long as they are under your name. If you were struggling to make ends meet in the past because of your income limits, you can stop worrying about that.
Decrease Your Financial Dependence on Others
Friends and family stick together in trying times. Even without asking, your loved ones may provide financial assistance to help you out of your difficult spot. While their financial aid is welcome, you may still want to ease their troubles as much as possible. Enrolling in a pooled trust helps with that.
Your loved ones do not need to cover your bills now that you have surplus income. They can stop giving financial assistance, knowing you can live comfortably without it.
Avoid the Need to Spend Down
Because of your precarious financial situation, you may need to spend down regularly to ensure you retain eligibility for government benefits. Always trying to spend down every month can be stressful. You can avoid that requirement by enrolling in a pooled trust. Put your surplus income in a pooled trust and reserve it for other essential expenses.
Can I Enroll in a Pooled Trust?
The benefits of pooled trusts can be life-changing for their users. Now that you know about those benefits, you may be interested in joining a pooled income trust.
Of course, pooled trusts are not for everyone. Even though they help individuals qualify for government benefits, they still have eligibility requirements.
The eligibility requirements you must meet will depend on which program you are trying to qualify for. There are requirements for Medicaid assistance and Supplemental Security Income. There are also eligibility requirements set for pooled income trusts. Learn more about those requirements by continuing below.
Eligibility Requirements for Medicaid
Medicaid is public insurance that covers senior citizens, people with disabilities, children, people caring for children aged eighteen or younger, pregnant women, as well as low-income individuals and families. Aside from being included in one of those groups, a Medicaid applicant in New York State must also be a state resident, a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, or a legal alien.
Thus far, you may have no trouble confirming your eligibility for Medicaid based on those requirements. However, things get tricky when you consider the annual household income limits you must meet to become eligible for Medicaid assistance. The maximum annual income limit depends on the size of your household.
The maximum income limit for a one-person household is $19,392. From there, you must add $6,836 to the original $19,392 figure for each household member. That is how you get an accurate accounting of the Medicaid limit for your situation. Note that the annual limits set for Medicaid eligibility in New York State are before taxes.
Eligibility Requirements for Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income can offer valuable financial assistance to individuals in dire need. You can use this monthly benefit to cover your food, shelter, and other basic needs.
Compared to Medicaid, the eligibility requirements for Supplementary Security Income are harder to meet. They are mostly related to your capacity to work.
According to New York State’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, a person may qualify for Supplemental Security Income if they can no longer work due to a medical condition and cannot perform tasks related to a previous job. The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance must also confirm that the applicant cannot move to a new line of work because of their medical condition.
The disability prohibiting an applicant from working must also last at least one year or is expected to last for that duration. An applicant may also be eligible for Supplemental Security Income if their disability will result in death.
There are also financial factors considered when evaluating a person’s eligibility for Supplemental Security Income.
There is a set monthly income limit for individuals seeking this form of government assistance. An applicant may only qualify if they make no more than $1,913 from their job monthly. The income limit increases if the applicant has a child.
Your resources are also considered when you apply for Supplemental Security Income. Resources often accounted for in Supplemental Security Income evaluations include a person’s bank accounts and vehicles. If the total value of an applicant’s resources is under $2,000, they will be eligible for supplemental security income. The resource limit is increased by $2,000 for a parent with a child.
Eligibility Requirements for Pooled Trusts
If you are eligible for either Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income, chances are you will also qualify for a pooled income trust. Still, the specific eligibility requirements are worth discussing if you want to enroll in one of those programs.
In New York State, you can enroll in a pooled trust as long as you meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of a person with a disability. The Social Security Administration defines disability as an inability to take part in substantial gainful activities. Substantial gainful activities refer to productive activities that allow individuals to earn payments.
Aside from having the ability to engage in substantial gainful activities, the Social Security Administration also considers medically determinable physical or mental impairments when evaluating disabilities. There must be available evidence confirming the existence of the medically determinable impairment.
The state also considers the duration of the disability when evaluating a person’s eligibility to join a pooled trust. They must have a disability that has lasted for 12 months or will stick around for that duration. An applicant will also be eligible if their disability will result in death.
You should have no trouble enrolling in a pooled trust as long as you meet the requirements. Take full advantage of that opportunity to make your daily life more manageable.
How Do You Enroll in a Pooled Trust?
A pooled trust may provide the necessary benefits to make your current situation more manageable. After reading up on the requirements, you have confirmed that you can enroll in a pooled trust.
So, how do you enroll in a pooled income trust? Allow us to detail the necessary steps of that process.
Consult an Estate Planning Attorney
With limited resources available, you may not think that consulting an estate planning attorney is something you can afford. However, embarking on this process without the services of an attorney is arguably riskier.
You may have trouble securing the necessary documentation if you do not consult an attorney beforehand. That delay could prove costly as it may force you to go without Medicaid coverage or Supplemental Security Income for an extended period.
Enrolling in a pooled trust without seeking legal guidance beforehand can also be risky because you may partner with the wrong organization. Estate planning attorneys in New York State are already familiar with the top not-for-profit organizations in the area. They can point you in the direction of the organization you should partner with.
Find a Suitable Not-For-Profit Organization
We already touched on this previously, but some not-for-profit organizations operating in New York State can help you better than others. You may not have the time or resources to examine the not-for-profit organizations in New York State. Coordinating with an experienced attorney will help significantly speed up that search.
Secure the Necessary Documents
Earlier in this article, we noted that you need evidence to confirm your medically determinable impairment. The evidence could come in the form of a Determination of Disability.
You can obtain that Determination of Disability from New York State’s Department of Health. Make sure you have the requirements for it ready by coordinating with your lawyer beforehand. Complete all the necessary preparations and shorten your waiting time for the Determination of Disability.
The Determination of Disability is not the only documentation you need to prove that you should be eligible for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, or a pooled trust. There are other documents provided by the Social Security Administration and other entities that will bolster your application.
Work with a lawyer so you can get your hands on those documents as soon as possible.
Apply for Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income
With all the necessary documents, you can now apply for Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income. Regardless of which form of government assistance you are applying for, it is best to start the process immediately. The application processes for both government assistance programs can be quite lengthy. You should start it right away to avoid financial challenges.
Once again, your estate planning attorney can provide valuable assistance. They can coordinate with the relevant agencies to ensure your application is moving along. Your attorney can also set your appointments, giving you more time to focus on other important tasks.
Enroll in a Pooled Trust
This is now the time for you to enroll in a pooled trust. Check with the organization you are joining to learn about their specific requirements. Get those requirements ready ahead of your visit so you do not need to make return trips.
Deposit Your Surplus Income in the Pooled Trust
You can start depositing your surplus income following your successful enrollment in the pooled trust. Remember to make timely deposits to avoid complications that could make you ineligible for Medicaid coverage or Supplemental Security Income.
Enrolling in a pooled trust can resolve many of the financial issues you are currently dealing with. Secure access to that service after partnering with an experienced estate planning attorney. Contact us today at the Alber Law Group and initiate the process of enrolling in a pooled trust.