Settlement and Benefit Planning
A settlement from a personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuit must be handled carefully so that a person receiving government benefits (such as SSI and Medicaid) will not jeopardize their benefit eligibility. SSI and Medicaid can provide benefits to a person that are critical for their medical care and monthly income. These benefits have a $2,000 asset threshold to qualify and maintain eligibility. Careful settlement planning can preserve this eligibility and still allow the person to benefit from the settlement. To accomplish these goals, a Special Needs Attorney can establish a “first-party” or “self-settled” trust to receive the proceeds of the lawsuit. The settlement funds can then still be used for the person’s exclusive benefit and pay for a variety of qualified expenses.
First Party and Self Settled Trusts are very different from the more common “Third Party” Special Needs Trust. A person can have either or both kinds of trusts, based on various government rules. Often, Special Needs Planning Attorneys work with a “team” of others, such as personal injury attorneys, financial planners and accountants to provide expertise in this highly specialized area of law.