Developmental Disabilities Endowment Trust Fund: Invest in Life

by Margaret-Lee Thompson, Guest Contributor

The Developmental Disabilities Endowment Trust Fund has a rich history in our state. It started at a coffee for a few Legislators in the middle 1990’s. Senator Dan McDonald (R) told us about a family friend, Barney, who had impacted him as he watched Barney age. He proposed the Endowment Trust Fund. We were all so excited.

A few of us parents participated in working on the bill’s language with Senate staff. After a lot of hard work and eleventh hour nail biting, it passed! It was the first of its kind in the nation, a public-private partnership that promotes investing and planning for the future.

Governor Gary Locke (D) appointed seven members to be on the DD Endowment Trust Fund board: four were parents that he knew and the others were professionals that Senator McDonald knew. I was one of the parents selected to be on the Board, and now serve as Chair. Out of the current seven members, six are family members who have a loved one with a developmental disability.

Organizationally, the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council performs administration duties to our Trust Board, while The Arc of Washington State manages the Trust accounts and interfaces with the individual or family. Both of these organizations have long histories in our state in being involved in best practices for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Ben H. enjoying his ETF funds, saved throughout
the year from his work earnings.

All through the years, the DD Endowment Trust Board has paid exceptional attention to what would work well for parents, family members, and individuals with developmental disabilities. Careful attention was given to make sure the Trust is affordable and accessible through the following incentives:

  • One-time enrollment fee of $600 that’s matched by the state in full after the end of the 3-year vesting period;
  • Low $25 month minimum contribution; and,
  • State matching funds on fees help to reduce overall costs.

Unlike an ordinary trust, which counts as an asset that can interfere with Social Security benefits and Medicaid funding, the DD Endowment Trust Fund is what’s called a supplemental (or “Special-needs”) trust by law. Funds in a trust account do not affect the eligibility for these benefits and services that are so important to an individual’s future.

We’ve growth quite a lot. There are now over 2,000 trusts, which include two types:

  • Trust I, which receives contributions by family members and others for the benefit of the individual; and,
  • Trust II, which receives contributions by the individual.

Many of our sons and daughters have become Trust II holders to invest their work and other earnings without risking needed benefits due to asset and resource limits. The individually-based criteria for expenditures of the Trust work well for them.

The Trust I accounts set up by parents and family members bring a sense of calm for their son or daughter’s future.

The Board of the Trust gives great attention on decisions for you and your child’s future. Please feel comfortable in accessing information at the DD Endowment Trust website or by phone: 360-705-9514.

I hope to see our Trust grow from your participation!


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