You may have heard the terms "special" needs trust and "supplemental" needs trust and wondered what the difference is. The short answer is that there's no difference. Here's the long answer.
When the field of special needs planning began some three decades ago, we generally called the trusts we created for people with disabilities “supplemental” needs trusts. Our thinking was that the purpose of the trusts was to supplement the assistance provided by Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income and other public benefits programs whose level of support is meager at best.
My new client was recently widowed. She is healthy, living on her own in the house she shared with her husband for many decades. She is comfortable financially with significant savings in addition to the home, but by no means wealthy. Her four children all have families of their own and they and their spouses have good jobs, so they don't need her financial support.
I met with her and her son. They asked whether the mom should put her home, and perhaps some of her savings, into an irrevocable trust in order to protect them in the event she needs long-term care. She also expressed her steadfast wish to stay at home.