By Joanne Marcus, MSW
1 in 5 adults have a mental illness and nearly 1 in 25 adults have a serious mental illness. When an illness impacts the individual’s ability to work or manage their finances, a plan is necessary to ensure careful management of funds. There are multiple options for future financial planning for loved ones with mental illness, but one such option is a Pooled Special Needs Trust (PSNT).
This article provides information about PSNTs, the benefits of using a PSNT, what can be paid for by the trust, and the steps to establish one.
A PSNT is administered by a nonprofit organization that manages and invests funds for people with disabilities. The funds are used to enrich the quality of life of the beneficiary and to protect government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. The funds are pooled together for investment purposes, which reduces administrative fees and provides an opportunity for growth.
There are two types of trusts:
For families that are setting up a third-party PSNT and planning for the future, it is helpful to ask the following questions:
Disbursements are not permitted for food or shelter if the beneficiary receives SSI but can pay for expenses that enrich the quality of life of the beneficiary.
With its many benefits, a PSNT can be a convenient and cost-effective option for those living with mental illness.
Joanne Marcus, MSW, is the Executive Director of Commonwealth Community Trust (CCT), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that administers affordable and efficient pooled special needs trusts. Founded in 1990, CCT has served more than 1,800 clients nationwide. With expertise in benefits protection, the CCT staff provides responsive trust administration services in a cost-effective and compassionate manner. For more information about CCT, contact Joanne at [email protected] or 804-740-6930. Visit www.trustCCT.org for information and additional resources.
Note: This blog is not an endorsement of any specific organization or its services.
We’re always accepting submissions to the NAMI Blog! We feature the latest research, stories of recovery, ways to end stigma and strategies for living well with mental illness. Most importantly: We feature your voices.
Check out our Submission Guidelines for more information.
Call the NAMI Helpline at
text "NAMI" to 741741
Find Your Local NAMI