Florida Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Considerations When Giving Holiday Gifts to Special Needs Loved Ones

At this time of year many people think about giving gifts to the young people in their life. If the recipient has special needs and receives federal aid such as Medicaid or SSI, or may apply for it in the future, you should give serious consideration to what and how you give.

Monetary Gifts

As a general rule, monetary gifts should not be made directly to your special needs loved one, in order to avoid jeopardizing his/her eligibility for vital government benefits. Giving a gift to someone with special needs is about more than being generous. It’s about being generous the right way. Consider these gifts:

Contribute to a Special Needs Trust

Has a Special Needs Trust been created to benefit your loved one? If it is an irrevocable trust set up by a third party (usually a parent), there is no limit on the amount of funds it can hold. Those funds can be used by the trustee to pay for services the government does not provide, such as assistive technologies, transportation, etc.Contribute to an ABLE account. Also find out if an ABLE account exists for your loved one. Up to $15,000 may be contributed to an ABLE account each year from all parties, so check with the account holder. Contribute to a Pooled Trust. If your loved one has funds for his benefit in a pooled trust, consider contributing to it. Pooled trusts combine funds from many beneficiaries while maintaining separate accounts for each beneficiary. As with the Special Needs Trust, there is no cap on the amount of money a pooled trust can hold.

Gifts for the child’s support staff

Special needs children may have an array of people assisting them, from physical therapists to tutors to bus drivers. Cash may be an appropriate gift, but so is something small that shows you acknowledge and appreciate their efforts.


Obviously selecting appropriate toys for children with special needs will depend on their capabilities. What may help and engage one child may be meaningless or frustrating for another. Click here for guidelines on selecting disability-specific toys.