MassHealth Seeking to Limit Disability Trusts for Folks 65 and Over

MassHealth has proposed regulations that would limit the ability of folks 65 and over to fund pooled disability trusts. These so-called (d)(4)(C) trusts permit assets to be used and protected for the benefit of someone receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or MassHealth benefits. A significant difference between special needs trusts, also known as (d)(4)(A), and the (d)(4)(C) pooled disability trusts is that beneficiaries of special needs (d)(4)(A) trusts must be under 65 years old when they are created and funded. This is not the case with (d)(4)(C) pooled disability trusts. (d)(4)(C) pooled disability trusts allow folks 65 and over to fund trusts. These trusts have been helpful to many people for long-term care planning.

According to information supplied for this Boston Globe articlethe average trust account balance administered by the Plan of Massachusetts and Rhode Island Inc., a nonprofit that administers trusts, is $60,000. These trusts are a way to provide small comforts to elderly people living in the community or long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. The funds are often used to pay for special medical care, geriatric care managers, a weekly lunch with a companion, or health aides. The funds can also be used to help an elderly resident stay in their home instead of moving to a nursing home funded by taxpayers.

Any funds remaining after the beneficiary's death goes to MassHealth, except for final trust administration fees. The cost to the Commonwealth for these pooled disability trusts is not great and helps many of our elderly neighbors live in the community and pay for support.

This proposed change has not been finalized, and I encourage those who disagree with MassHealth's proposal to limit these trusts for people 65 and over, to call your legislators. Community members picking up their phones and voicing their opinions can have a big impact.