Frequently asked questions

Top FAQs for beneficiaries and their advocates

Why do I need a special needs trust? How is it helpful?

People with disabilities are able to receive certain government benefits, such as Medicaid and SSI, if they have resources that are less than $2,000. A special needs trust is a way for you to have more than $2,000 and receive financial support, while still being able to keep your government benefits.

Your additional funds are kept safe in a special needs trust, and can be used to purchase things that improve your quality of life – as long as they don’t affect your government benefits.

It is the trustee’s job to manage and protect your funds, to make money available for approved expenses, and to ensure that you remain eligible for government benefits.

Do you get to decide what I can do with my money?

A special needs trust allows you to keep your money and your government benefits – this is a good thing! However, in order for you to have a special needs trust, you must agree to give up control of your money. This means that the trustee is legally in charge of your money and how it is spent. So if you want to make a purchase with trust funds, the trustee must approve the purchase. The law requires this. We realize that this can be frustrating sometimes, especially if we say “no” to things you want to buy. Please understand that we must do this in order to protect your government benefits. In these situations, we will do our best to find a solution so you can get the things you need.

Our duty is to preserve your eligibility for your needed benefits and to insure your trust funds last as long as possible.

What do you do with my money?

Once your money is in the pooled trust, we are required to invest it so that you can earn additional income. It’s important to remember that even though your money is being invested, it can still be used to purchase things that improve your quality of life.

We work with a partner company called True Link Financial Advisors to invest your money in a safe, smart way. When you first join the Golden State Pooled Trust (GSPT), a representative from True Link speaks to you to understand your needs. This helps True Link invest your money in the best way possible.

How do you know what my needs are?

It is important for us to understand your unique situation and needs so that we can provide you with the best support possible. When you first join the Golden State Pooled Trust (GSPT), we learn about some of your needs from your attorney. However, we always like to learn more!

The best way for you to help us understand your needs is to create a “spending plan” with GSPT. A spending plan is similar to a monthly budget – it tells us how much money you typically spend in a month, and what you buy. When you create a spending plan with GSPT, it can make the distribution process easier so you get your money quicker.

If you’d like to create a spending plan or share some helpful information about your needs, you can call us at 877-336-3096 or email us at shelley@gspt.org.

Please remember to let us know if your needs or personal situation changes in any way!

What can my trust pay for? Are there any rules I need to know?

GSPT can pay for things that improve your quality of life – as long as they don’t harm your government benefits. There are a few rules that we must follow, required by law, in order to do this.
  1. Only things for you
    Your trust funds can only be used to pay for things for you, as the beneficiary of the trust. They cannot be used to buy things for family members, friends, partners, or anyone else.
  2. No direct access to funds
    You cannot take money out of your trust or access the funds by yourself. If you need to pay for something with trust funds, you must tell GSPT and get approval. GSPT will then process the payment. We cannot send a check directly to you.
  3. No cash
    GSPT cannot give you cash. If you need to buy something that requires cash, please let us know so we can find another solution.
  4. Reimbursements are allowed … sometimes
    If you buy something using cash, a check, or a debit card, we cannot reimburse you.If you have a beneficiary advocate or caregiver who buys something for you, GSPT may be able to reimburse that person.  They will need to submit a reimbursement request and an invoice or receipt.
  5. No food, housing, or utilities … in general
    A special needs trust is supposed to pay for things that are not covered by your government benefits. If we pay for things that are already covered, your benefits may be reduced or you may even lose your benefits.

    If you receive SSI, the trust will typically not pay for food, housing, or utilities. However, there may be some circumstances when it makes sense for GSPT to pay for these things – even if your benefits are reduced. GSPT will consider these situations very carefully.
    Examples of things we typically cannot pay for, if you receive SSI:
    Electricity
    Food
    Garbage removal
    Gas
    Heating / fuel
    Mortgage (including property insurance)
    Real property taxes
    Rent
    Sewer
    Water
  6. Things we can pay for
    GSPT can provide money for “supplemental needs” that improve your quality of life. This includes a lot of things! Here are just a few examples.
    Examples of things we can pay for:
    Auto maintenance
    Books
    Car
    Caretaker*
    Clothes
    Club membership
    Computer
    Educational programs
    Entertainment (e.g., movies, concert tickets)
    Eyeglasses
    Fitness equipment
    Furniture
    Health needs that are not covered by your benefits
    Hobbies
    Home modifications
    House
    Laundry and dry cleaning
    Linens, bedding
    Mobility equipment
    Music lessons, instruments
    Personal care items
    Pets and pet supplies
    Phone bill
    Pre-need burial expenses
    Private nurse
    Salon services (e.g., hair, nails)
    Stationery and stamps
    Stereos and electronics
    Television and cable bills
    Transportation costs
    Travel for your sole benefit
    Yard service
    *If a family member is acting as your caretaker, additional documentation may be needed;
    please contact GSPT for more information
How do I request funds?

In order to request funds, you or your advocate will need to submit a Distribution Request Form to GSPT. This is a form that tells us what item or service you want and how much it costs. You can submit the form by email at shelley@gspt.org, by fax at 888-794-4778, or by regular mail at Beneficiary Support Division, 1647 Willow Pass Rd. #254, Concord, CA 94520.

Along with the Distribution Request Form, you will also need to provide documentation that verifies the cost of the item or service. This can be an invoice, receipt, statement, or other formal documentation. We need this information before we can approve your request. If you are unable to provide this, please contact us.

If you have an unusual request or need something that is very expensive, please send your Distribution Request Form to us as early as possible. When you submit a request for something that costs a lot, it may take us more time than usual to process the request.  

If you have a recurring expense (one that happens on a frequent basis), we may be able to pre-authorize it so you don’t need to submit a request every time. In order to do this, please contact GSPT.

What are the different ways I can pay for things with my trust funds?

There are several ways that items and services can be paid for. Please speak with GSPT to determine which way(s) are right for you. 
  1. GSPT pays the merchant directly
    You or your beneficiary advocate can submit a Distribution Request for a specific item or service, and GSPT will pay the merchant directly.

    EXAMPLE 1:
    You find a book you want on Amazon.com and submit a Distribution Request to GSPT. You also provide a web link, so GSPT knows how much the book costs. GSPT approves the request, and then buys the book for you on Amazon.com.

    EXAMPLE 2: You need to take your dog to the veterinarian. You call the vet beforehand to find out how much the appointment will cost, and then you submit a Distribution Request to GSPT. After the appointment, the veterinarian sends an invoice directly to GSPT and the trust pays for the bill.
  2. Credit card
    You or your beneficiary advocate can use a credit card to pay for approved expenses. Submit the credit card statement to GSPT, as well as receipts. GSPT will only pay for the portion of the bill with approved items. You will need to pay for the rest of the bill.

    EXAMPLE 1: Using your credit card, you buy a new coat at Macy’s, movie tickets, and groceries. You send the credit card statement and receipts to GSPT. The trust reviews the purchases and approves the coat and movie tickets – but not the groceries. The trust then sends a check to the credit card company for the cost of the coat and movie tickets. You pay the remainder of the bill, which covers the cost of the groceries.

    EXAMPLE 2:
    Your beneficiary advocate uses their credit card to pay for your Verizon phone bill and your electricity bill. Your advocate then sends the credit card statement and invoices for the phone bill and electricity bill to GSPT. GSPT reviews the purchases and approves the phone bill but not the electricity bill. GSPT then sends a check for the amount of the phone bill to the beneficiary advocate. The beneficiary advocate pays for the full credit card bill.
  3. True Link Card
    The True Link Card is a reloadable Visa debit card for beneficiaries and beneficiary advocates. This is a way for you to receive money directly onto a card, and use the card to pay for approved items and services. If you have pre-approved expenses that occur every month, you can automatically get money loaded onto your True Link Card to pay for them. You can also use the card for one-time requests. There is a monthly fee of $10 to use the True Link Card. You or your advocate will need to sign a True Link Agreement. Please contact GSPT to learn more about this option.

    EXAMPLE 1:
    Every month, you take a drawing class that costs $20. This is a pre-approved expense included in your spending plan. On the day before your class, GSPT automatically loads $20 onto your True Link Card.

    EXAMPLE 2: You need to purchase new eyeglasses. You tell GSPT the store where you want to buy them, and the cost. GSPT then puts money for that purchase on your True Link Card.
What do I need to do to make sure my benefits stay safe?

The best way to make sure your benefits are safe is to understand what you can – and cannot – buy with your trust funds. We realize that some of these rules can be confusing, so we are always here to help. Please contact us if you have any questions about your funds, how they can be used, or how to submit a Distribution Request.

I received a letter from Social Security. What do I do?

If you receive any letter from Social Security or any correspondence about your government benefits, please let us know immediately by calling us at 877-336-3096. Please fax 888-794-4778 or email us the letter for our review. This information may be relevant to your eligibility for public benefits as they pertain to your special needs trust.

I changed my address / got a new phone number. Should I let you know?

Yes! Please let us know if your personal situation changes in any way. This will help us make sure your needs are met.

Important contact information

If you have any questions or need help with your GSPT account, you can always contact our Beneficiary Support team. We are here to serve you!

The Golden State Pooled Trust
Phone: 877-336-3096

Email: shelley@gspt.org
Fax: 888-794-4778
Mail: Beneficiary Support Division, 1647 Willow Pass Rd. #254, Concord, CA 94520