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September 9, 2021 Evelynn S. Passino, Esq., Executive Director   The reality of many settlements is that the recovery is simply not sufficient to meet the client’s future needs. Whether it is due to low policy limits, large liens, or bad circumstances, it is not always possible for the client to get what they truly deserve. The possibility that someone will run out of money because there just was not enough to begin with is a challenge we encounter often, but there are some strategies which can be used to make the most of what is recovered.   Maximizing the…
A person who has both Medicare and Medicaid is commonly referred to as being “dual-eligible.” If you have a client who is dual-eligible, there are special planning considerations which may need to be addressed to preserve all of their benefits post-settlement. Medicare Medicare is a benefit administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide health insurance for those over 64, and people with a disability who are under 65 and meet certain criteria. If a person is receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI), then they will be eligible for Medicare 24 months after they became eligible for…
May 6, 2021 Evelynn Passino, J.D. Personal injury cases involving minors can be the most heartbreaking and presents difficult decisions about what to do with the settlement money. Unlike settlements involving adults, who have many choices when it comes to how and when they receive their money, minors do not have the same options.   Issues with Minor’s Settlements Because minors cannot legally take title to property, the court will need to approve both the settlement and the plan for funding. The state has an obligation to ensure the funds are protected for the child’s future use, so they typically…
If your client has public benefits, you have probably identified that there could be injury-related liens which must be addressed, or the need for a Medicare Set-Aside, but that is not where the inquiry ends. Closing out a personal injury case ethically and compliantly includes an analysis of the client’s benefits eligibility. This article will cover five things you should know if your client has public benefits that are needs-based such as SSI and/or Medicaid.   1. You have a responsibility to educate your client on preservation options. Not advising your client that funds received at settlement could negatively impact…
At its most basic, a Qualified Settlement Fund (“QSF” or “468B trust”) is a temporary holding tank for settlement funds. Its purpose is to allow both parties to wrap up the settlement at the speed that works for them while taking advantage of certain tax benefits. Timing Benefits When a case is settled, the defendant may want to issue payment quickly and move on, while the plaintiff may need more time to negotiate claims with lienholders, handle allocation issues, and/or make post-settlement arrangements such as setting up structured settlements and trusts. If funds are disbursed to the plaintiff attorney’s IOLTA,…
February 1, 2021 Helping Your Client Select a Special Needs Trust   If you have a client on government benefits, you probably already identified the need for a special needs trust (SNT), but helping your client translate that need into a solution that will work for them long-term can be tricky. Not all trusts and trustees are cut from the same cloth, and the right option for one client is unlikely to be the right option for another. Types of SNTs If you are unfamiliar with SNTs, the first thing to understand is that the term can mean several different…
January 12, 2021 Evelynn Passino, J.D. Clients with public benefits often face a conundrum as their case settles: after years of litigation, they are finally receiving funds which they desperately need, but receipt of those funds will cause them to lose public benefits which they also need. This is because some benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and housing benefits, are means-tested. Means-tested benefits (also known as needs-based benefits) have asset and/or income qualifications in addition to other qualifications, such as having a disability or serious medical need. These restrictions vary from…
November 3, 2020 Helping a client plan for their post-settlement life can be complicated, especially if they have significant future medical expenses. Whether your client struggles with managing money or just wants the peace of mind that funds are set-aside for their medical needs, a medical management trust can help them sleep better at night knowing money will be available to pay for future treatments and therapies. What exactly a trust like this can pay for depends on the language in the trust and how much discretion the trustee has. If the language is sufficiently broad, permissible disbursements might include…
October 6, 2020 A Special Needs Trust (SNT) is a type of trust for people with disabilities which is authorized by federal law (42 USC § 1396(d)(4)(a-c)) to be exempt from being counted as a resource by Social Security, Medicaid, and other agencies which administer means-tested benefits. These trusts are often funded by personal injury recoveries, and in these situations a question almost always arises: Will I be limited to spending the money on medical costs? Fortunately, the answer is no! While this type of trust can (and often is) used to pay for medical needs, there are many other…
September 1, 2020 As a case comes to a close, personal injury victims often have plans for their settlement recovery. They might want to pay bills accumulated throughout the case, reimburse family members who helped them after their accident, seek additional medical treatment and therapies, travel, buy a home, buy a car…the list goes on. From time to time, our beneficiaries approach us about their dream to start a business and use money in their trust to do so. In some cases, their goal is to provide for themselves or their family beyond the settlement, while others simply want to…