Trust Basics

WHAT IS A TRUST?

A trust is a legal arrangement regulated by State law in which one party holds property for the benefit of another. In certain situations, a trust can be set up for an Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient. A trust can contain:

  • cash or other liquid assets; and

  • real or personal property that could be turned into cash.

HOW DOES A TRUST AFFECT MY SSI BENEFITS?

  • If you use your assets to establish a trust on or after January 1, 2000, generally, the trust will count as your resource for SSI.

  • In the case of a revocable trust, the whole trust is your resource.

  • In the case of an irrevocable trust, if there are any circumstances under which payment could be made to you or for your benefit, the portion of the trust from which payment could be made is your resource.

WHAT THINGS COUNT AS ASSETS AND ARE USED TO ESTABLISH A TRUST?

  • Assets usually include your:

  • income (countable and excluded);

  • resources (countable and excluded); and

  • property or payments that you have a right to but do not receive.

HOW DOES MONEY FROM A TRUST THAT IS NOT MY RESOURCE AFFECT MY SSI BENEFITS?

  • Money paid directly to you from the trust reduces your SSI benefit.

  • Money paid directly to someone to provide you with food or shelter reduces your SSI benefit – but only up to a certain limit.  No matter how much money is paid for these items, Social Security will subtract no more than 1/3 from your SSI check for the month you receive the items.

  • Money paid directly to someone to provide you with items other than food and shelter does not reduce your SSI benefits. (Items that are not "food or shelter" include medical care, telephone bills, education, entertainment, etc.)

For more information on SSI benefits click here.

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