“Needs-Based” government programs like SSI and Medicaid that provide you with monthly income or payments for medical services have strict financial eligibility limits. Without careful planning, a settlement award may cause you to lose your eligibility for those programs.
Certain items, such as your home, one automobile (if used for travel to and from the doctor’s office or your job), a Special Needs Trust, and a limited amount of home furnishings and jewelry may be exempt or not counted as resources for purposes of determining eligibility. So, if you currently receive needs-based benefits, it may be best if you use part of your settlement proceeds to buy some of these exempt items the same month that you receive your settlement.
Our other videos on Spending Down Settlement Proceeds/Exemption Planning and Special Needs Trusts discuss in more detail the ways that you can ensure that your government benefits are not interrupted. No matter which option you choose, you MUST tell your government caseworker about your settlement. Otherwise, you could lose your benefits.