Social Security Region 4
Good news! One of the tasks of our Florida Bar Elder Law Section’s Special Needs Committee which I co-chaired this year, was to petition the Social Security Administration to change the Atlanta Regional POMS on Trusts. Specifically, we wanted recognition that the Doctrine of Worthier Title no longer applied in Florida. The Atlanta Regional Office of the Social Security Administration publishes the instructions to Florida SSA staff on interpretations of Florida law.
The Doctrine of Worthier Title had previously made irrevocable trusts into revocable trusts, automatically by operation of law, whenever the trust document failed to name a specific residual beneficiary. This caught many Florida drafters of Special Needs Trusts by surprise. For a Special Needs Trust to be valid under federal SSI rules, and thus trigger SSI-related Medicaid in Florida, the trust must be irrevocable. A previous attempt by our law firm, through litigation in the federal courts, was unsuccessful in persuading the courts that Florida had abandoned the Doctrine through case law. Thus we sought an administrative remedy by petition.
That problem has now been corrected. Life is good!