The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act, federal legislation that allows people with disabilities to create their own special needs trusts instead of having to rely on others, is now law. The measure was included in the 21st Century Cures Act, a $6.3 billion package of health-related initiatives signed by President Obama on December 13, 2016.
As the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) put it in a press release announcing the Fairness Act’s clearing its final legislative hurdle, the measure “corrects a patently false and degrading error in the law that presumed all individuals with disabilities lacked the capacity to handle their own affairs.” The legislation, which Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) introduced in 2013, will finally allow beneficiaries with capacity to create and fund their own special needs trusts.
In addition to Rep. Thompson, NAELA applauded Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) along with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fl.) “for their bipartisan dedication to ensuring this common sense fix became law.”
The Fairness Act will apply to trusts established on or after the date that the Cures Act was enacted.
The Social Security Administration has published an emergency memorandum incorporating the change into the Program Operations Manual System (POMS). For details, see New Jersey ElderLawAnswers member Donal D. Vanarelli's blog post here.
The SNT Fairness Act can be found in Title V, Section 5007 (page 440), of the Cures Act. To read the 21st Century Cures Act, click here.
For background on the Fairness Act, click here.