Special Needs Trusts for Personal Injury Settlements and Verdicts
Georgia Personal Injury Attorneys Help You Keep Government Benefits
Personal injury lawsuits are a way for accident victims to get compensation for serious injuries that could affect the rest of their lives. Nothing can ever undo a life-altering accident, but a personal injury recovery can improve your quality of life and ease your financial burdens. However, for some people, the money from a personal injury lawsuit, if not handled correctly, could affect eligibility for necessary government benefits. If you rely on government assistance programs like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), an influx of cash such as a personal injury settlement may disqualify you from receiving those benefits.
However, the money from your lawsuit can be put into a special needs trust fund instead. Money in this kind of trust cannot be counted as income, which will allow you to maintain your eligibility for government benefits. A special needs beneficiary can then use the money to pay for expenses not covered by these programs. The Georgia personal injury attorneys at the McArthur Law Firm have experience with special needs trusts. We fight to make our clients’ lives better, not more complicated. Therefore, we take care to ensure that a settlement will not financially harm someone who is already dealing with injuries.
How Do Special Needs Trusts Work?
Any injury that is serious enough to justify a personal injury lawsuit is likely to have lasting effects on your health and wellbeing. Some injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury, could affect the rest of your life or cause a permanent disability. In these cases, you may need the assistance of government programs for your ongoing medical care. A special needs trust allows you to keep these benefits, and use your personal injury compensation to meet other needs.
A trust is a financial arrangement where one person or entity holds and manages property for another person. A special needs trust is a particular kind of fund that is exempt from certain government considerations. In other words, if you need to set up a special needs trust for your personal injury settlement, you will not receive the cash in a lump sum. Instead, the money will be deposited into a separate account. A trustee, usually a family member or professional, will be responsible for dispersing the fund.
Since you do not have direct control over the compensation from your personal injury case, it is not considered to be income. This means that you can keep your Medicaid coverage and SSI benefits as well as any other assistance you receive.
However, the settlement is still your money, which means the trustee can only use it for your benefit. The trustee will be responsible for investing the funds in the trust and filing taxes on any interest accrued.
How Can I Use Special Needs Trust Funds?
The trustee of your special needs trust can use the money to pay for many things you might require. This includes material goods, services and even things like travel expenses. In general, your special need trust fund can cover:
- Rent payments or a home purchase. You can own one primary home and still qualify for government benefits.
- One vehicle. Your main means of transportation does not count toward your income. This is especially helpful if you require special modifications to your vehicle after your injury.
- Furniture and personal items. This can include clothes, books, dishware and any other personal effects.
- Property used for work. Your trust can pay for anything that you need for your job or to make special accommodations after your injury.
- Assets or services toward a future occupation. This includes further education or expenses related to starting your own business.
- Burial expenses and life insurance. You may pay for a limited life insurance policy and any burial insurance with your special needs trust.
All of these items do not count toward the assets considered by the SSI and Medicaid programs. Your trustee cannot use your trust fund to purchase any “countable resources,” which do affect your eligibility for these benefits. These assets include stocks, bonds, real estate other than your home and retirement accounts.
Questions about Special Needs Trusts? Contact Our Georgia Personal Injury Attorneys Today
If you rely on government assistance for housing, income or healthcare after a debilitating accident, you may still be able to receive compensation from a personal injury settlement or verdict. Our Georgia personal injury attorneys can help you plan for a special needs trust after your case. The laws concerning trusts can be complicated, but we can explain everything you need to know. We can even help you decide on a trustee and file all the necessary paperwork after your case is over.
Our special needs trust lawyers are always happy to answer any questions you may have. Contact us online or call our personal injury law firm to schedule a free consultation today.