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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Legislation on Special Needs Trusts

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss special needs trusts.

A July 14 release from Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-PA):
This week, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved H.R. 670, the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-5). The legislation removes arbitrary legal barriers that prevent individuals with disabilities from independently creating Special Needs Trusts.

“Mr. Thompson is to be commended for the masterful way he has lined up bipartisan support for this important law to benefit persons with disabilities,” said Amos Goodall, of the State College based law firm Goodall & Yuchak, P.C. and public policy advocate for the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). “It is an example of his concern for persons who are less fortunate that has been the cornerstone of his activities throughout his career.”

Under current law, disabled individuals are required to have a legal guardian or the courts create a special needs trust on their behalf, regardless of whether or not they have the capacity to establish their own. This mandate can result in burdensome legal fees and extended wait periods in creating trusts—valuable tools that are often used to supplement daily living and care expenses when government benefits alone prove to be insufficient.

“I am pleased that the Energy and Commerce Committee took an important step toward correcting a legal inequity,” Thompson said. “This is a fundamental issue of equal protection under the law. We must safeguard the right of Americans living with disabilities to secure their future financial stability.”