If you are receiving Supplemental Security Income and are awarded a personal injury settlement, you may wonder what that settlement means for your monthly benefits. In most cases, you're only eligible for SSI payments if you have minimal or no income and very little in assets. Since a personal injury settlement could be considered an asset, your award might push you out of the qualification bracket. There are some exceptions, though. If you put your funds into a trust, you might be able to retain your benefits.
What is the Trust For?
A trust is a financial account that's controlled by a third party to cover expenses on your behalf. You choose the person you want to manage the trust, and he or she must handle the account according to the state laws where you live. If you aren't receiving the funds directly from the trust, it may not disrupt your benefits. If, on the other hand, you receive money directly from the trust, that money is considered income and could reduce your benefits.
Can You Claim Hardship?
You might be able to preserve your benefits through a claim of hardship. If you can show the Social Security Administration that losing your benefits would cause an undue financial hardship even with your settlement, you might be able to preserve the payments in addition to your personal injury award from the trust. This is often the case if the money from the trust or your settlement will go directly to your medical costs, leaving you with no accessible cash from it.
How Do You Set Up the Trust?
If you're expecting a financial settlement for your personal injury case, talk with your personal injury attorney about how to have that money go to a trust. He or she can help you understand the laws in your state as they apply to trust payments and your SSI benefits. By working with an attorney like Gomez May LLP, you have a better chance to preserve your monthly benefits even with the settlement that you received.
When your current financial position makes it difficult for you to make ends meet without the SSI payments and your personal injury settlement is insufficient for household funds after paying your medical costs, make sure you take the necessary legal steps to preserve your SSI benefit. Your personal injury attorney can help you navigate the necessary paperwork to show that the trust is dedicated to specific costs and to document the hardship you're facing otherwise.
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