Administration of SSNPT
Money Paid Directly to the Beneficiary
The receipt of cash affects eligibility for SSI as well as Medicaid benefits. If the beneficiary has a credit card the trustee may pay the credit card bill at the end of the month if all receipts for purchases are attached to the credit card bill that is submitted with the distribution request form for payment. The trustee will only authorize payment for items purchased on the credit card that are for the sole benefit of the beneficiary.
Money Paid Directly to Someone to Provide Beneficiary With Food or Shelter
Paying for food or shelter for an SSI beneficiary reduces their SSI benefit. The payment of food or shelter costs does not affect Medicaid benefits.
Food and Shelter Expenses:
- Mortgage Payment
- Garbage Removal
- Real Property Taxes
- Property Insurance (if required by lender)
- Rent (Room and Board)
- Heating Fuel
Only the above listed items count as In-kind Support and Maintenance (ISM) when paid by the trustee. Payments for any of these items will affect a beneficiary’s monthly SSI check.
Money paid directly to someone to provide the beneficiary with food or shelter reduces the beneficiary’s SSI benefit— but only up to a certain limit. No matter how much money is spent for these items, no more than $260.33 (in 2015) is subtracted from the beneficiary’s SSI check the month they receive the items. Please note that some examples of allowable household expenses included cable TV, telephone, and computer lines.
Medical, Vocational, Educational and Other Personal Services
If payments are made directly to third parties, there is no limitation on what may be spent for the beneficiary in the above categories. However, Social Security has recently taken the position that a reimbursement paid directly from a trust to a third party that reimburses the third party for an item purchased for the beneficiary (even items not considered food or shelter) can be counted as income directly paid to the beneficiary. We are trying to get clarification on this from Social Security administrators.
Credit Card Payments
Buying on credit is treated as though you were borrowing money and what you purchase this way is not counted as income. This does not avoid the ISM (In-kind Support and Maintenance) rule. To ensure that we are complying with the sole benefit rules of the Trust and that we are not paying for items that may affect benefits, we can only pay a credit card bill if we have a receipt for every purchase on the bill.
For liability purposes, the SSNPT will not own vehicles. Individuals on SSI and Medicaid can own a vehicle and a beneficiary’s trust fund may be used to purchase one necessary vehicle for the beneficiary’s sole use. Funds of a minor beneficiary will not be used to purchase the family vehicle and can only be used to purchase a vehicle specially adapted to meet a minor beneficiary’s special needs. Vehicles owned by a beneficiary can be maintained with trust funds.
Pre-need Burial Policy
At the beneficiary’s death the trustee is unable to pay for burial and funeral expenses from the trust prior to the state Medicaid agency being paid back. We recommend prepaying the beneficiary’s burial expenses once the trust is funded. During life, burial contracts are permissible expenditures if they are irrevocable and do not accumulate cash value. A burial space, which is also permissible, includes burial plots, gravesites, crypts, mausoleums, urns, niches and other customary and traditional repositories for the remains. The term includes necessary and reasonable improvements or additions to or upon such burial spaces.
Employment of Family Members/Friends as Aides and Attendants
The amount paid to the caregiver must be reasonable, in accord with what the trustee would pay a stranger to provide the same services for the same number of hours. Receipt of such payments by a caregiver would generally be considered income and subject to federal income taxes. A caregiver should consult with their income tax advisor regarding treatment of these payments. The determination of whether to hire family caregivers, the scope of services and the rate of compensation will not be made by the trustees.
Personal Effects. Household Goods and Consumable Items
The Social Security staff and Medicaid staff is instructed to assume that the value of all things the applicant/beneficiary has is less than $2,000 unless something is reported to the contrary.
Items such as furnishings, TVs, computers, books, recreational items, consumables such as toothpaste, grooming items, games, hobby materials, etc. may all be purchased by credit card and then the trustee can pay the credit card bill if all receipts for items purchased are submitted with the bill. Or, the trustee may reimburse individual’s paying for these items on the beneficiary’s behalf with the corresponding receipts.
Purchase or Payment of Items That Effect Medicaid Eligibility
The SSI rules provide that if an individual loses eligibility financially for SSI benefits, but resumes financial eligibility within a 12-month period or less, the Social Security Administration may resume SSI benefit payments without the entire medical evaluation and re-application process. Ineligibility would occur because of a cash payment received, not the receipt of ISM.
The value of a gift card/gift certificate is not income in the month it is received if the gift card/certificate:
- Cannot be used to purchase food or shelter; and
- Cannot be resold.
The restriction on use of a gift card/certificate can be legal, (imposed by the card issuer), or practical, (the store where the card must be redeemed does not sell food or shelter items).