The Social Security Administration recently issued an Emergency Message to all personnel requiring workers to specifically inform SSI applicants or beneficiaries of the reasons a special needs trust has been rejected by the agency.

In the past, when the SSA determined that assets in an SSI beneficiary or applicant’s trust were countable, the agency would frequently send a notice to the beneficiary or applicant telling him that he was ineligible for benefits because his assets exceeded the resource limit.  However, this notice almost never explained the reasoning behind the SSA’s rejection of the trust.

The new Emergency Message, which went out to all field level SSA personnel, requires caseworkers to spell out exactly what portion of the Program Operations Manual System (POMS) applies to the trust being rejected.  Unfortunately, the Emergency Message does not tell field workers that they have to explain their reasoning in plain English — merely citing the appropriate section of the POMS appears to be enough.  While this will make it relatively easy for professionals to determine what went wrong with a trust and whether an appeal is in order, it will likely give the layperson little if any guidance about his or her trust.

To read the Emergency Message, go to:  https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/reference.nsf/links/03022016015517PM