Can I leave my teacher’s TRS pension to my child with special needs?

Can I leave my teachers TRS pension to my child with special needs

Illinois lawmakers set up the Teachers’ Retirement System, or TRS, in 1939. It is a pension program designed to provide retirement annuities, disability benefits and survivor benefits for men and women who work in the state’s public schools.

If you are a teacher in Illinois and have a child with special needs, you have options as you think about his or her future, especially after you are gone. Future planning is important for everyone, but especially for families who have a child with special needs.

State law allows special trusts to be established for children with special needs to help them as they grow into adulthood. A self-settled or third party special needs trust can help cover expenses not usually taken care of by public assistance, such as transportation, food and some living costs.

Once it’s been decided that a trust is in order, the question is how to fund it. If one or both of the parents has a public pension such as TRS, they may be allowed to leave the pension as a continuing annuity to a special needs trust for the benefit of an adult child with special needs for their entire lifetime so long as there are certain very specific provisions in the trust which are not in most special needs trusts.

There are different kinds of trusts you might want to consider. One of them, a third party special needs trust, is usually established by the parents of a child with special needs who have assets that the child has no part of. A third party special needs trust is often used to hold an inheritance or a gift, yet still allow the child to qualify for government assistance. The assets in the trust are not given to the child, but rather, a trustee who can use their funds as needed for their benefit. There are no limits to how much money the trust holds.

TRS is funded through contributions by both the employee and the school he or she works for in Illinois. Employees who contribute to TRS or receive a TRS pension work outside the city of Chicago.

Talk to an experienced special needs planning attorney, who will help you use your TRS pension to help fund a special needs trust. A trust is the best way to ensure your child with special needs is protected for the rest of his or her life.

Rubin Law is the only law firm in Illinois exclusively limited to providing compassionate special needs legal and future planning to guide our fellow Illinois families of children and adults with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, or mental illness down the road to peace of mind. For more information, email us at or call 866-To-Rubin.