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Pooled Account Trusts « Special Needs Trusts


Articles, Publications and other Resources
re: Pooled Account Trusts
in Special Needs Estate Planning


  • For Frequently Asked Questions about Pooled Account Trusts, click here.

Administrative Decisions and Court Cases

  • Prof. Rosenberg’s Article Cited by Third Circuit Court of Appeals (Cuny School of Law)
    In Lewis v. Alexander, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 12546 (3d Cir. 2012), a class action challenging aspects of Pennsylvania’s state law regulating pooled special needs trusts for people with disabilities, the Third Circuit held that federal Medicaid law preempted the more restrictive state law provisions.  On the merits, the court cited Professor Joe Rosenberg’s article, “Supplemental Needs Trusts for People with Disabilities:  The Development of a Private Trust in the Public Interest,” 10 Boston University Public Interest Law Journal 91 (2000), for its analysis of the legislative intent, scope, and application of the federal Medicaid law that governs pooled special needs trusts.


  • Re: Maria Quagliato, Claimant (5-25-10)
    Issue: Whether the Department properly denied Claimant's Medicaid Assistance Long Term Care benefits due to a divestment. Administrative Law Judge decision reversed Department's determination and rules that pooled trusts are allowed for individuals with disabilities.

Pooled Trusts Listings and Resources

  • From Special Needs Answers: A listing of pooled trusts around the nation.
    Medicaid and SSI law permit "(d)(4)(C)" or "pooled trusts" for beneficiaries with special needs. Such trusts pool the resources of many beneficiaries, and those resources are managed by a non-profit association. Unlike individual disability trusts, which may be created only for those under age 65, pooled trusts may be for beneficiaries of any age and may be created by the beneficiary herself. In addition, at the beneficiary's death the state does not have to be repaid for its Medicaid expenses on her behalf as long as the funds are retained in the trust for the benefit of other disabled beneficiaries. (At least, that’s what the federal law says; some states require reimbursement under all circumstances.) Although a pooled trust is an option for an individual over age 65 who is receiving Medicaid or SSI, those over age 65 who make transfers to the trust will incur a transfer penalty.
  • Washington State Developmental Disabilities Endowment Trust Fund
    In 1999, the State of Washington made it easy for families and individuals with developmental disabilities to prepare for their future financial stability. The Legislature passed a bill establishing the Developmental Disabilities Endowment Trust Fund. Now called the Life Opportunities Trust, this public-private partnership creates a stable resource to enhance the quality of life for citizens with developmental disabilities.

Articles and Publications

  • A Case for Pooled Special Needs Trusts (Secured Futures)
    The Importance of Flexible and Low Cost, Full Service (d)(4)(C) Trusts.  Pooled trusts combine the resources from many individuals, reducing costly fees and creating a robust and stable trust while allowing the disabled individual to remain financially eligible for public assistance benefits.
  • Grab Your Water Wings: How and When to Use a Pooled Special Needs Trust When Planning for the Elderly Client (Michele P. Fuller)
    Consideration of a Pooled Special Needs Trust as a planning tool for obtaining or preserving means-tested governmental benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Section 8 housing, Medicaid, Veteran benefits, Waiver services, and long-term care Medicaid Assistance, is under-utilized among elder law practitioners when planning for a single individual over the age of 65.
  • Letter from State of Maryland Office of Attorney General, Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene (4/23/10)
    This letter clarifies the issue of permissibility of a disabled beneficiary 65 years of age and older transferring assets from his or her special needs trust into a pooled trust without penalty.
  • Pooled Trusts (Robert B. Fleming, Esq.- Nov. 19, 2007)
    What is a pooled trust, when is it used, and what are the advantages?
  • Pooled Trusts (Thomas E. Simmons, Esq. – July, 2012)
    In March, April and June of this year, three important court decisions results in a negative impact for pooled trusts serving older individuals with disabilities throughout the country.  All three courts concluded that Medicaid ineligibility penalties could be assessed against disabled individuals funding a pooled trust if the individual was age 65 or older at the time of funding the trust.
  • Pooled Trusts – Letter re Medicaid divestment policy (State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services – 1/22/09)
    Thanks to advocacy in Wisconsin, the state changed their policy from considering divestment to apply to pooled trusts set up by persons over 65 with disability to ignoring age.
  • Pooled Trust Options: A Guidebook (National PLAN Alliance)
    The purpose of this guide is to serve the best interest of people with disabilities, to provide as much guidance as possible to those who offer a pooled trust option, and to increase success and sustainability for pooled trusts.
  • Third Circuit Court Decision Affirms Medicaid Recipients of Any Age Are Allowed Use of Pooled Special Needs Trusts (Digital Journal – 8/6/12)
    The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, along with the Special Needs Alliance and the Pennsylvania Association of Elder Law Attorneys, filed a brief of amicus curiae in support of appellees, Zackery D. Lewis, et al., against the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare in Lewis v. Alexander, involving pooled special needs trusts. “Pooled special needs trusts let people with disabilities who have modest savings — as little as $5,000 — hold onto them without losing their Medicaid benefits,” said NAELA board member Ron M. Landsman, CAP, the principal author of the NAELA amicus curiae.
  • Use of Pooled Trusts for Nonmarital Domestic Partners (Sanford Mall – NAELA News – 2007)
    For a heterosexual couple, spousal impoverishment protections protect the community spouse. These same protections do not exist for unmarried domestic partners.
  • What's a Pooled Trust? A Way to Avoid the Nursing Home (New York Times – 11/4/10)
    Now that most baby boomers’ parents have been retired for many years, what’s left of their retirement income often isn’t enough to pay for the rising costs of long-term care. Many children will do whatever it takes to keep their elderly parents living within the comfort and security of their own home. But that can be particularly challenging for middle-class families who cannot afford private home care, but who have too much income or other assets to qualify for state-run Medicaid programs. But there is a little-known way for some people in certain states to receive home care through Medicaid, without requiring them to impoverish themselves first. Here’s how it works: a federal law established in 1993 allows disabled people to put their monthly income or assets — above the amounts Medicaid allows them to keep — into a special type of pooled trust. They can then use the money in the trust to pay for their basic monthly bills like rent, a mortgage payment or cable television.
  • What is a Pooled Trust? (LexisNexis)
    A pooled trust is a trust established and administered by a non-profit organization.  A separate account is established for each beneficiary of the trust, but for the purposes of investment and management of funds, the trust pools these accounts.  For self-settled, or (d)(4)(C) pooled trusts, each subaccount is established by the person with a disability, a parent, grandparent, guardian, or a court, and the trust is funded with the assets of the person with a disability.
  • When Representing Clients with Special Needs, Consider Using Pooled Special Needs Trust (Commonwealth Community Trust)
    During the past twenty plus years representing children with disabilities in personal injury cases, I encountered a common problem. After a good settlement or verdict was obtained and a special needs trust was established for the child's money, I would inevitably receive calls from parents who were frustrated by their efforts to interact with the trustee to obtain money for necessities for their child. After all, the SNT was set up to provide for the child's necessities while preserving the child's Medicaid or SSI benefits. Why should the parent feel belittled when he or she tried to work with the trustee on behalf of the child?

Organizations & Resources re: Pooled Account Trusts:

  • Wisconsin Pooled & Community Trusts, Inc. (WisPACT)
    A private nonprofit organization that administers pooled and community Special Needs Trusts for people with disabilities. Based in Madison, WisPACT manages the Special Needs Trusts for more than 1,600 people throughout the state of Wisconsin.
  • Directory of Pooled Trusts (Special Needs Answers)
    Medicaid and SSI law permit "(d)(4)(C)" or "pooled trusts" for beneficiaries with special needs. Such trusts pool the resources of many beneficiaries, and those resources are managed by a non-profit association. Unlike individual disability trusts, which may be created only for those under age 65, pooled trusts may be for beneficiaries of any age and may be created by the beneficiary herself. Links are provided to a listing of pooled trusts around the nation.

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