If you are about to settle a personal injury case, two things are likely true: the settlement is for a substantial amount of money, and you have financial and medical needs that are (or can be) met through government benefits. Because these benefits programs are needs-based, the influx of settlement proceeds can get in the way of your eligibility. Fortunately, there are options to ensure you can have both you settlement and the benefits you qualify for.
Some public benefits are means-tested, meaning that there are income and asset limits. Other public benefits are not means-tested, which means that the injured plaintiff can have money without losing eligibility.
Those that are not means-tested include:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): A monthly cash benefit that depends on the amount paid into the Social Security system
Medicare: Provides medical coverage for hospital, outpatient, and prescription drugs
If a person is receiving public benefits that are not means-tested, obtaining a settlement should not affect his or her eligibility.
Means-tested programs include (but are not limited to):
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Helps pay for basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter
- Medicaid: Covers medical costs, certain types of care, group housing, etc.
SNAP (Food Stamps): Provides an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card to pay for food
- Federally-Assisted Housing (Section 8): Provides subsidized rent
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Covers medical care for low-income and middle-class individuals (not only disabled individuals)
If an individual is receiving public benefits that are means-tested, certain trusts and settlement planning tools can allow the beneficiary to have the personal injury settlement while maintaining benefits.
If you’re about to obtain a settlement and you also receive government benefits, it would be useful to talk to an expert to ensure you’re protecting your eligibility. A comprehensive settlement planning firm will assess the benefits you currently receive as well as your future needs and financial goals. Together, you’ll then develop a plan to ensure your settlement and government benefits are as helpful as possible.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).