- SSA’s prior policy regarding SNT payment of travel expenses to enable third parties to accompany the beneficiary was extremely restrictive. Although an SNT trustee could pay the beneficiary’s travel expenses, the trustee was limited to paying a non-beneficiary’s travel expenses to accompany the beneficiary only when the beneficiary was traveling to obtain medical treatment. This was true even if the beneficiary required the assistance of others to travel safely.
- The new SSA rules now liberalize travel expenses for third-party travel.
The effect of SSA’s companion travel policy was harsh. The policy also was unfair.
The revised rules reverse this unfair policy. SNT trustees are now allowed to pay the travel expenses of third parties to accompany the beneficiary and to provide the beneficiary with services or assistance necessitated by his or her medical condition, disability, or age. By providing services or assistance necessitated by the beneficiary’s age “means that a beneficiary who is a minor and cannot travel unaccompanied,” a trustee can pay for a companion’s travel expenses.
However, in order for an SNT trustee to pay a third-party’s expenses, the companion must actually provide services or assistance to the beneficiary necessary for the beneficiary to travel. For example, an SNT trustee cannot pay for a third party to travel without providing care, simply to enable the care provider to travel and provide care.
The following travel expenses to ensure the safety or medical well-being of the trust beneficiary are allowable and do not violate the sole-benefit rule:
- Travel for a service provider to oversee the trust beneficiary’s living arrangements when the beneficiary resides in an institution, nursing home, other long-term care facility (for example, group homes and assisted living facilities), or other supported living arrangements.
- Travel for a trustee, trust advisor named in the trust, or successor to exercise his or her fiduciary duties or to ensure the well-being of the beneficiary when the beneficiary does not reside in an institution.
A third party can be a family member, non-family person, or another entity.
To discuss your NJ special needs trust matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.
By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq., of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold Township, Monmouth County NJ Special Needs Trust Attorney