If someone with special needs is a beneficiary of a special needs trust and is also receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits then the Trustee of the trust must be very careful to not make any distributions that would jeopardize SSI eligibility.
One of the no-no's for the trustee is paying for "food" or "shelter". If a special needs trust picks up the tab at the restaurant or covers the grocery bill then it may reduce or eliminate the SSI benefits. Although food is allowed under certain circumstances, such as food provided during a "medical confinement".
There could also be SSI eligibility problems if the trustee uses trust funds to pay for shelter costs such as rent, heating fuel, gas, electricity, water, sewerage and garbage collection services. Again, the "medical confinement" exception applies.
But don't confuse "shelter costs" with "home ownership". It's OK for a special needs trust to owna house in which the SSI beneficiary lives.
By the way, the words "food" and "shelter" are usually accompanied by the word, "clothing". But not in the world of SSI eligibility, as of 2005. In other words, gifts of clothing to SSI beneficiaries are no longer a problem because it's not counted as income or in-kind support and maintenance.