The Special Disability Trust (SDT) is a trust structure established to provide for a person with severe disability. The trust can only have one beneficiary and a beneficiary can only be a member of one SDT. It is advisable before the SDT has been established that the beneficiary be assessed by the Department of Human Services special trust team to be qualified. Their assessment will be using the legislative criteria for medical impairment, care needs and work capacity. If the beneficiary already has dealings with the Department of Human Services it is more likely they have information about them already. The department may need some medical evidence from the medical practitioner and a work test maybe applied.

From 1 January 2011, a beneficiary can work up to seven hours a week at or above the minimum relevant wage in open employment and still qualify for a Special Disability Trust.

Where a person is working for wages in accordance with the Supported Wage System (SWS) administered by the Commonwealth, there is no limit on the number of hours.

There are no restrictions for people with disability who are in jail or psychiatric confinement having a Special Disability Trust established for them where they meet the eligibility criteria.

A beneficiary is not able to reside permanently outside of Australia. One of the purposes of a Special Disability Trust is to pay for the reasonable care needs for the beneficiary and those needs must be met in Australia. However, a beneficiary is able to travel overseas on a temporary basis.

There are restrictions on what a beneficiary or their partner can gift to their Special Disability Trust.

Two types of assets cannot be contributed to the trust:

  • any asset transferred to the trust by the beneficiary or their partner unless:
    • the asset is all or part of a bequest, or a superannuation death benefit, and
    • the bequest or superannuation benefit was received not more than three years before the transfer
  • any compensation received by or on behalf of the beneficiary.

These rules are intended to preserve the existing treatment of compensation payment and prevent the person with severe disability from putting their own property into a Special Disability Trust in order to qualify for income support, rather than using it directly for their own support.

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Disclaimer and Warning
The information above is of a general nature only. It should not be used as a source to make financial decisions. It’s also important to note that the legislation and figures related to this topic tend to change regularly and therefore the information above may not reflect the current status. We recommend that if you are looking for advice on this matter, you should contact us.