How to Use Your Special Needs Trust

Basics about Using Special Needs Trust

Money from a special needs trust can be used for many things government benefits don't cover. That's one of the reasons why families or individuals set them up. Special needs trusts also come with rules about how they can and can't be used.

But using your trust money is not just about what's allowed or not. Making good choices about how to use money is also important.

 

Your Primary Representative Contacts Us to Use Trust Money.

Every special needs trust from The Arc of Northern Virginia names a primary representative.  That's the person who works with the beneficiary to help manage the trust money. The primary representative (PR, for short) knows your budget and what you can afford. The PR also knows what kinds of things are right for you to buy or pay for. When you and the PR have agreed on something to buy, the PR starts the payment process. Getting money from your special needs trust is called disbursement. The PR must fill out a disbursement form every time to request money from the trust.

Need help? Don't worry! That's why we are here.

Get in touch with Trinitas Nsabimana, our Account Manager, by email (Trinitas.Nsabimana@thearcofnova.org) or by phone (703-208-1119 ext. 119).

Money from your special needs trust may be spent on these kinds of things:

  • Clothing
  • Cell phone/cable bill
  • Furniture
  • Electronics
  • Sports & recreational activities (movies, clubs, subscriptions)
  • Gym membership
  • Vacations and travel costs
  • Tuition & books
  • Eye care (eye glasses, contacts)
  • Dental care
  • Hair care
  • Respite care
  • Taxes
  • Legal fees
  • Buying and maintaining a car, van, or truck
  • Purchasing a house, apartment, or condo
  • House cleaning services
  • Plus many more.

Please contact us for questions.

Disbursements: Using Special Needs Trust Money

There are several ways to use money from a trust. Each of the topics listed is explained in detail below.

Pay a Vendor/Provider Directly

If you have a cell phone bill, cable bill, dental bill, you can pay those vendors/providers directly.

Recurring Payments

Do you have a monthly, quarterly, or annual bill that needs to be paid? You can set up a recurring payment.

Buy a Vehicle

Please speak with the Account Manager and get approval from us before considering purchasing a vehicle.

Pay First, Get a Refund

See how to get reimbursed for a payment already made. Submit reimbursement as soon as you can.

Get a True Link Card

This card is like a prepaid card but with special limits.

Buy a Home

Please speak with the Director of Trusts and get approval from us before considering purchasing a home.

Ask For Money in Advance

See how to plan for future purchases and payments.

Use a Credit Card

We can make purchases for a beneficiary who doesn't have a credit card.

Pay For a Vacation

Airplane and train tickets, hotel rooms, and more are allowable vacation expenses.

Pay a Provider Directly

The trust program prefers to pay providers directly. This helps minimize the impact on the beneficiary's government benefits. The primary representative (PR) may:

  1. Fill out a disbursement request form.
  2. Print or scan the form.
  3. Attach or scan bill or invoice to go with the form.
  4. Send the form and paperwork to The Arc of Northern Virginia office.
    --Email the form and receipts to TNsabimana@thearcofnova.org.
    --Fax the form and receipts to (703) 208-0906
    --Mail or drop off the form and receipts. Our office is at 2755 Hartland Road, Suite 200, Falls Church, VA 22043

Staff at The Arc of Northern Virginia review the payment request. If anything is missing or not filled out right, the Account Manager will let you know.

Payment takes about two weeks.

Double-Check Your Requests

Primary representatives submit requests for payments. Payments go smoothly when

  • The disbursement request form is filled out and signed.
  • Receipts, invoices and other paperwork are attached.
  • Purchases are allowed by the trust agreement.
  • Purchases are allowed by government benefits rules.
  • Purchases are only for the trust beneficiary.

Pay First and Get a Refund

Your primary representative (PR) can buy something for you and get paid back from the trust.  To do that, your PR will:

  1. Buy or pay for something for you.
  2. Save the receipt and any other paperwork needed to prove it was a valid expense.
  3. Fill out a disbursement request form.
  4. Print or scan the form.
  5. Attach or scan receipts or other paperwork to go with the form.
  6. Send the form and paperwork to The Arc of Northern Virginia office.
    --Email the form and receipts to TNsabimana@thearcofnova.org.
    --Fax the form and receipts to (703) 208-0906
    --Mail or drop off the form and receipts. Our office is at 2755 Hartland Road, Suite 200, Falls Church, VA 22043

Staff at The Arc of Northern Virginia review the payment request. If anything is missing or not filled out right, the Account Manager will let you know.

Payment takes about two weeks.

Double-Check Your Requests

Primary representatives submit requests for reimbursement after you buy something. Payments go smoothly when

  • The disbursement request form is filled out and signed.
  • Receipts, invoices and other paperwork are attached.
  • Purchases are allowed by the trust agreement.
  • Purchases are allowed by government benefits rules.
  • Purchases are only for the trust beneficiary.

Ask For Money In Advance

The primary representative (PR) can request money to buy something for you in advance. To do that, your PR will:

  1. Plan to buy or pay for something for you.
  2. Fill out a disbursement request form.
  3. Print or scan the form.
  4. Attach or scan a Training Invoice or a description/link of something you want to buy.
  5. Send the form and paperwork to The Arc of Northern Virginia office.
    --Email the form and receipts to TNsabimana@thearcofnova.org.
    --Fax the form and receipts to (703) 208-0906
    --Mail or drop off the form and receipts. Our office is at 2755 Hartland Road, Suite 200, Falls Church, VA 22043

Staff at The Arc of Northern Virginia review the payment request. If anything is missing or not filled out right, the Account Manager will let you know.

Payment will take about two weeks.

Double-Check Your Requests

Primary representatives can request money for something not yet purchased. Payments go smoothly when

  • The disbursement request form is filled out and signed.
  • Receipts, invoices and other paperwork are attached.
  • Purchases are allowed by the trust agreement.
  • Purchases are allowed by government benefits rules.
  • Purchases are only for the trust beneficiary.

Recurring Payment

Do you have a bill that you need to pay every month, year, or on a regular basis? This can include a phone bill, a dental bill, or even car insurance. To do so, the PR may:

  1. Fill out a recurring disbursement request form. You just need to do this once.
  2. Print or scan the form.
  3. Attach or scan invoices/bills to go with the form.
  4. Contact your vendor to change the billing address to The Arc of Northern Virginia. Keep your name on the bill.
  5. Send the form and paperwork to The Arc of Northern Virginia office.
    --Email the form and receipts to TNsabimana@thearcofnova.org.
    --Fax the form and receipts to (703) 208-0906
    --Mail or drop off the form and receipts. Our office is at 2755 Hartland Road, Suite 200, Falls Church, VA 22043

If anything is missing or not filled out right, the Account Manager will let you know.

The process of setting up recurring payments may take about two weeks. Sometimes, changing the billing address may take 1 billing cycle.

Double-Check Your Requests

Primary representatives can set up a payment for each month/year. Payments go smoothly when

  • The disbursement request form is filled out and signed.
  • Receipts, invoices and other paperwork are attached.
  • Purchases are allowed by the trust agreement.
  • Purchases are allowed by government benefits rules.
  • Purchases are only for the trust beneficiary.

Get a True Link Card

The primary representative can request the trust team to order a TrueLink card. This card is a prepaid card that allows the trust team to deposit money for you to use. There may be certain limitations on how you can use the card, for example, food and rent (if you have SSI).

Download the True Link card agreement

  1. The PR submits a disbursement request form. The payee should be "TrueLink Card".
  2. The PR contacts the Account Manager to order the card.
  3. We may ask for a Trust Plan or a budget to be completed if they are not already do so.
  4. The Account Manager and the PR will agree on a specific amount to be loaded onto the card.
  5. The Account Manager orders the card (this may take a few weeks).
  6. The Account Manager activates the card and mails it to the PR.
  7. The PR can take the Beneficiary shopping for agreed upon items in the budget.
  8. The PR must send receipts at the end of the month or after the purchase.
  9. After the Account Manager reviews the receipts, the TrueLink card may then be reloaded for next time.

If anything is missing or not filled out right, the Account Manager will let you know.

Double-Check Your Requests

Primary representatives submit requests for payments before you can use a credit card. Payments go smoothly when

  • The disbursement request form is filled out and signed.
  • Receipts, invoices and other paperwork are attached.
  • Purchases are allowed by the trust agreement.
  • Purchases are allowed by government benefits rules.
  • Purchases are only for the trust beneficiary.

Use a Credit Card

A credit card is handy for buying things online, making travel reservations, and taking care of emergency needs.

Here's how it works. The primary representative (PR) should:

  1. Research the purchase to get information and total cost.
  2. Fill out a disbursement request form. The payee is "Foundation of the Arc of Northern Virginia." The payee address is "2755 Hartland Road, Suite 200, Falls Church, VA 22043"  
  3. Print or scan the form and attach invoices, estimates, or other paperwork showing information/cost.
  4. Send the form and paperwork to The Arc of Northern Virginia office.
    --Email the form and receipts to TNsabimana@thearcofnova.org.
    --Fax the form and receipts to (703) 208-0906
    --Mail or drop off the form and receipts. Our office is at 2755 Hartland Road, Suite 200, Falls Church, VA 22043
  5. Staff at The Arc of Northern Virginia review the payment request. If anything is missing or not filled out right, the Account Manager will let you know.
  6. The Trust Department will wait till the request is approved and the check is written.
  7. When the Trust Department gets the check, the Account Manager will make the credit card purchase for you.

The process of requesting and making the credit card payment takes about two weeks.

Double-Check Your Requests

Primary representatives submit requests for payments before you can use a credit card. Payments go smoothly when

  • The disbursement request form is filled out and signed.
  • Receipts, invoices and other paperwork are attached.
  • Purchases are allowed by the trust agreement.
  • Purchases are allowed by government benefits rules.
  • Purchases are only for the trust beneficiary.

Buy a Vehicle

Buying a car may require additional information and communication with the Trust Department. If you are thinking of using your trust to buy a car, please contact the Trust Department as soon as possible.

The PR must send the Account Manager information about the car. We may ask for driving history. Once the car is pre-approved, the Account Manager will work with you, the seller, and Key Bank, to buy the car.

Download the car-purchase guide

Double-Check Your Requests

Primary representatives can buy a car using the trust money. Car purchases go smoothly when

  • The disbursement request form is filled out and signed.
  • Receipts, invoices and other paperwork are attached.
  • Purchases are allowed by the trust agreement.
  • Purchases are allowed by government benefits rules.
  • Purchases are only for the trust beneficiary.

Buy a Home

Buying a home can be very complicated. So it is important to talk with our Trust Department through every step. If you are considering using your trust to buy a home, condo, or apartment to live in, please contact the Trust Department as soon as possible.

The PR must send the Account Manager information about the home. Once the home is pre-approved, the Account Manager will work with you, your agent, and Key Bank. Key Bank has a very knowledgeable and helpful team to help you find the best home for your needs.

Download the Key Bank Real Estate Flyer 

Double-Check Your Requests

Primary representatives can buy a home using trust money. Home purchases go smoothly when

  • The disbursement request form is filled out and signed.
  • Receipts, invoices and other paperwork are attached.
  • Purchases are allowed by the trust agreement.
  • Purchases are allowed by government benefits rules.
  • Purchases are only for the trust beneficiary.

Pay for a Vacation

Three people in silhouette as they take photos of a beach sunsetSomeone with a special needs trust can go on vacation using money from their trust.

Vacations always take planning. Vacations involving a special needs trust can require even more planning.

The primary representative (PR) will follow the normal process for payment requests. Planning ahead can pay off. The PR can request money in advance to pay for airfare and hotels. Other expenses, like gasoline, food and drinks, only happen during the trip. It's important to keep all receipts so the expenses can be paid back.

Booking travel usually requires a credit card. If needed, The Arc of Northern Virginia can use its credit card to book travel for a beneficiary. Please check the credit card section for more information.

A Travel Companion's Expenses may be Covered
Trust money can only be used for things for the trust beneficiary. But if the beneficiary cannot travel alone, a travel companion's expenses may also be paid. The PR must get a letter proving proof the beneficiary cannot travel alone. A medical doctor, nurse practitioner, clinical social worker, physical therapist or other health professional may write the letter.

Double-Check Your Requests

Primary representatives submit requests for vacation expenses and travel costs. Payments go smoothly when

  • The disbursement request form is filled out and signed.
  • Receipts, invoices and other paperwork are attached.
  • Purchases are allowed by the trust agreement.
  • Purchases are allowed by government benefits rules.
  • Purchases are only for the trust beneficiary.