Public benefits planning can be daunting even for the most skilled practitioner. Many skilled litigators put together a team of advisors to address a client’s diverse needs at all stages of the case. Engaging a special needs planning attorney who in advance of any settlement determination, trial or mediation helps mitigate the potential future dilution of assets and benefits for a client with disabilities. For example:
- Careful analysis of a client’s current and future need for medical and/or cash assistance must be made at the earliest stage possible in order to determine whether achieving or maintaining financial eligibility is an essential consideration. Some public benefits do not have financial eligibility, while others do.
- Receiving income or assets from a personal injury settlement could jeopardize eligibility for certain need-based programs, unless the income and assets are directed to a properly drafted special needs trust (SNT).
- An understanding of precisely how the assets in a SNT properly may be used without running afoul of intricate financial eligibility rules for various government assistance programs ensures the client and families have reasonable expectations on the future use of any settlement or award.
- How real estate is titled can impact how distributions from a SNT are treated for Medicaid and Social Security Income (SSI) eligibility, as well as caregiving parent responsibility and potential Medicaid recovery.
- Choosing the right Trustee is crucial for the proper administration of the SNT and retaining financial eligibility for public benefits since many SNTs fail because of how they are administered, even though the documents are drafted properly.
- If a client is a military dependent or has become blind or disabled before the age of 26, he or she may be eligible for special planning for a parent’s military survivor benefits or for the creation of an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account. Understanding these options and their interrelationship with an SNT is critical to serving your client’s best interests.
Structuring a settlement that best provides for your client’s future care and well-being requires consideration of many factors and detailed planning. When your client’s injuries result in an ongoing need for support from federal or state programs, it is essential to weigh the long-term impact of any settlement on eligibility for those programs which have income or resource limits. We can help you structure a settlement, or plan for a potential trial award, that best meets your client’s long-term financial and care needs.