Do personal injury settlements affect social security disability?

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Money from a personal injury settlement will not affect social security disability benefits that you receive. This is because social security disability benefits are not a means-based, or needs-based program. Disability benefits are provided where you have a serious, long-term disability that prevents you from obtaining or keeping a job. In other words, social security disability would not be impacted because it has nothing to do with earning a living. This will be the case even if the settlement amount is large.

However, a personal injury settlement can affect other benefits that you receive from the government, particularly those that are based on income or means. For example, supplemental security income and Medicaid benefits. The social security administration monitors the monthly income of recipients to verify that they qualify for their programs.

When someone receives a personal injury settlement, but also received supplemental social security income or Medicaid benefits, their injury attorney will need to create what’s called a “special needs trust” so that they will continue to be eligible for those benefits. A special needs trust is designed so that the money from the settlement will supplement, not take the place of, government benefits. Special needs trusts are often set up to pay for costs like food, shelter, clothing, and health care.

Obviously, the benefit to the special needs trust is that your government benefits are not disrupted. A downside is that you would only be a beneficiary to the trust, and would no longer have access to the money. In other words, the trust is not like a “bank.” The money is only there for the express purposes set forth in the trust document.

If you or a loved one have been injured, and you are not sure how your potential claim will affect your government benefits, then please feel free to call and speak to an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer today.