Pooled Special Needs Trust

How It Works

The many benefits of Special Needs Trusts can be found throughout this website. But you may be wondering, how does it work?

First, we will need to determine if a Special Needs Trust is right for you.

Oftentimes we will have a conversation with you or your attorney to determine what means-tested benefits you receive, such as Medicaid and SSI. Additionally, under Social Security Administration’s definition, you must have a qualifying disability to be eligible for a Special Needs Trust. If it has been determined that a Special Needs Trust is in your best interest, we will send a Joinder Agreement packet to the address you provide.

Second, you complete a Joinder Agreement.

What is a Joinder Agreement? The Joinder Agreement is the legal contract for enrollment into the Pooled Special Needs Trust. By signing the documents, you are allowing us to create a sub-account for the beneficiary in order to disburse funds in accordance with the Master Trust Agreement. Since this is a legal document, we recommend that it is read and understood. If you have questions, contact us or your attorney for clarification. Once completed, please return to our office for processing.for a Special Needs Trust.

Third, the trust waits for funding to be received.

A very common question pertains to the length of time until the trust can be used. This will vary for each individual depending upon your specific case or source of funding. We like to remind clients that the paperwork is the most important step to complete until the funding check is received. Since the funds are normally provided from the proceeds of a lawsuit or from a benefactor, we must wait for checks to be disbursed on the back end. Your patience will be very much appreciated.

Fourth, the trust is funded.

Once we receive the funding check and it has been deposited, your Special Needs Trust has been funded, New Leaf will send a Welcome Packet to your address on file. This packet will have detailed information, including a How To Guide, Welcome Packet Checklist, Disbursement Request forms, etc., that will be beneficial to utilizing your trust. Please return the Welcome Packet Checklist and A Word About Credit Cards in the envelope provided. Your Disbursement Coordinator will contact you during this time to schedule a Welcome Call to answer any questions you may have about how to use the trust.

Finally, you may begin requesting disbursements.

Once your sub-account has been established, and the Welcome Packet forms have been returned, you are able to begin making disbursement requests! You may submit your requests in writing via facsimile, e-mail, postal mail, or over the phone.

New Leaf National Foundation is a public charity tax-exempt pursuant to §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations to New Leaf National Foundation are tax deductible.

What can I buy?

While there are limits, a Special Needs Trust can help to enhance your quality of life. We would love to provide a comprehensive list of items that a Special Needs Trust can pay for. Unfortunately, the federal and state regulations that govern how a Special Needs Trust can be used are so complex that it is impossible to draft an all-inclusive list of what goods and services you can and cannot purchase. We are providing the following list simply to give you an idea how you may be able to use your trust. Just because an item appears on the list does not mean that it will always be allowable or will be allowable in your situation. Different states have different regulations.


– cable TV
– cell phone services
– internet services
– assisted living services
– insurance payments
– hair care
– transportation
– entertainment expenses
– eye and dental care
– tuition to camps, classes, etc.
– auto repair/maintenance
– pet grooming/veterinarian bills
– rehabilitation
– travel expenses
– attorney/accountant/financial planning fees
– music lessons
– therapeutic massages
– home modifications/home improvements
– field trips/day trips, etc.
– seminar expenses
– modifications to make vehicle handicap accessible
– concerts, movies, sporting events, etc.
– HVAC services


– vehicles
– clothing
– furniture
– personal care items
– television/stereo, etc.
– mattress/box springs
– eyeglasses/contacts
– vacations
– hobby supplies
– toys
– essential dietary needs
– computers/software
– pets/pet supplies
– prepaid funeral expenses**
– washer/dryer
– guitar, musical instrument, etc.
– household products
– tools/supplies, etc.
– kitchen appliances/tools
– outdoor grill
– games
– school tuition
– gasoline
– household appliances

*Please Note: If the beneficiary is a minor, certain restrictions may apply. Please contact our office for further information.

Due to federal guidelines found in the Center for Medicaid/Medicare Services transmittals and SSA’s P.O.M.S. manual, we cannot pay for a Beneficiary’s funeral or other financial liabilities after he or she has passed away. Your Disbursement Coordinator can assist you with prepaid funeral options.

New Leaf National Foundation is a public charity tax-exempt pursuant to §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations to New Leaf National Foundation are tax deductible.

Frequently Asked Questions


A Special Needs Trust is a legal tool designed to enhance the quality of life for an individual with a disability. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 is a federal law stating individuals with a disability, as defined by Social Security Administration, can establish a Pooled Special Needs Trust and still maintain eligibility for means-tested government benefits, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This law allows the disabled individual to place their money into the irrevocable Pooled Special Needs Trust, as long as that trust is managed by a nonprofit organization such as New Leaf. By design, the funds placed into a Special Needs Trust are not considered to be a countable asset and should not jeopardize eligibility for means-tested government benefits. A Special Needs Trust is intended to offer supplemental care beyond what the government programs will provide.

New Leaf National Foundation administers two types of trusts:

  • Self-Settled Pooled Special Needs Trust – A trust that is established with the beneficiary’s own funds. This type of trust contains a Medicaid Payback provision.
  • Third-Party Special Needs Trust – A trust that is established by a third party, such as a grandparent, parent, relative, or friend for the benefit of a loved one with a disability.


In order to qualify for a Special Needs Trust, the individual will need to meet the criteria for disabled under the Social Security Administration’s definition.

New Leaf has competitive rates that are in line with industry standards. We do not charge a per-transaction fee. We do not have transaction limits. Please contact us for additional information.

New Leaf utilizes a conservative investment plan to minimize risk to our beneficiaries. Each beneficiary has their individual sub account that holds their specific cash balance. We then “pool” or combine together the sub accounts for investment purposes and to reduce the administrative fees. Based upon the beneficiary’s share of the principal, the earnings are then reinvested into the sub account. The financial institution will maintain the financial record for each sub account reflecting this activity. Please consult with a tax professional regarding risks associated with invested funds.

Once we have received the check, the check will be deposited in a timely manner.

Once your account has been funded, you will be assigned to a specific Disbursement Coordinator.

Please contact our office. It is important we maintain accurate contact information for the funded account.


Yes, a properly complete Disbursement Request Form is an essential tool in helping you to maintain eligibility. It also allows for clear communication of your supplemental needs to your Disbursement Coordinator.

A Special Needs Trust can be used in many ways to enhance the quality of life for a beneficiary by providing for your supplemental needs. Your Disbursement Coordinator is a great source for identifying approveable expenses. Some examples include clothing, furniture, transportation, hobbies, eye and dental care, computer/software, educational expenses, etc. You may refer to a more extensive list of goods and services here.

The first step is to contact your Disbursement Coordinator to obtain a Vehicle Request Packet. This packet will identify what we need for review. Please note: Each state has rules and guidelines, particularly concerning minor’s trusts, that we must abide by in order to maintain the beneficiary’s eligibility to receive means-tested government benefits. Our Vehicle Purchase Department will work with you and the seller.

Unfortunately, a Special Needs Trust has a specific rule called the Sole Benefit Rule. This means that any funds spent out of the trust must be for the sole benefit of the named beneficiary. In order to maintain eligibility for means-tested government benefits, each trust must follow this rule. Please see your Declaration of Trust for further information.

A Special Needs Trust is designed to assist with your supplemental needs. It is not designed to cover in-kind maintenance and support expenses, such as rent, utilities, and food.

Vendor Services

New Leaf strives to provide our beneficiaries with the highest level of customer service.  At times this may include using third-party vendors, such as those for the following types of services:

  • Automotive buying services
  • Vehicle modification services
  • Home purchase services
  • Home maintenance services
  • Prepaid Funeral Arrangements
  • Healthcare and Personal Care Assistance
  • Transportation services
  • Language translation services
  • Others