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Special Needs Trusts - Disability Definitions

Following are brief definitions or descriptions of key terms relating to Social Security SSI and other government benefit programs that should be understood in creating or administering a special needs trust in Utah. This page is not intended to be taken as legal advice. If you or someone you care about is disabled or has special needs, a special needs trust may be an important part of a comprehensive estate plan. Contact us today to see how we can help create a custom estate plan for you.

Disability and Government Programs - Key Terms & Definitions

DISABILITY – under the standards used to determine eligibility for assistance for SSDI or SSI, “disability” refers to a physical or mental impairment that results in the inability to perform substantial gainful employment. The condition must last or be expected to last for at least 12 months or to result in death.

CATEGORICALLY NEEDY – for purposes of discussing special needs trusts, “categorically needy” generally refers to a person who is “disabled” (as defined for SSI eligibility purposes), blind, or over the age of 65.

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INSURANCE (SSDI) – a government benefit available to an individual with a disability who is entitled to receive benefits either because of his/her own work history prior to becoming disabled or as a dependent or survivor of a disabled, retired, or deceased insured worker. These benefits are not means-tested.

SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI) – a government benefit available to an individual who is is disabled, blind, or over the age of 65 who has limited income and assets. SSI eligibility rules are also used to determine eligibility for other government programs.

MEDICARE – a health care program operated and funded by the federal government, available to all those age 65 and over (if also entitled to receive Social Security benefits) and those under 65 who have received SSDI benefits for at least two years. These benefits are not means-tested.

MEDICAID – a health care program run by state governments, with partial funding from the federal government. In Utah, a person who qualifies for SSI should automatically qualify for Medicaid.

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Finding an Estate Planning and Trusts Lawyer in Utah

We work directly with each client to create personalized estate plans that can include a living trust, will, special needs trust, durable power of attorney, and other documents or estate planning tools. If you have never established an estate plan, or if you have an existing plan that needs review and updating, contact us today to see how a qualified estate planning attorney can help you.


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Estate Planning Attorney Wills & Trusts Estate Planning - Setting up a good estate plan requires more than filling out a free online form or downloading software. But a good estate plan does not have to be overly expensive. A good attorney can guide you through the process of determining what estate planning tools are right for you and your family, and then create personalized estate planning documents to protect you and your family, and give you the peace of mind you deserve. Contact us today to start the process of setting up a personalized estate plan.

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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, Morgan, and Wasatch Counties - and all of Utah.


Stephen W. Howard is Utah attorney, practicing as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC.
With offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties, we are pleased to provide legal services to clients throughout Utah.
Call 801-449-1409 to arrange for a confidential initial consultation.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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