Today Your Legal Corner will discuss the importance of a disabled person having a Special Needs Trust, when pursuing a personal injury claim. With November comes the promise of much colder weather as we escape hurricane season unscathed. Yet much of the aftermath of the 2012 hurricane season remains.
When remembering Hurricane Sandy, I can think of only one word…patience. As we were bombarded with repetitive weather information, preparing for the storm…patience. When attempting to operate a generator for the very first time or taking the dogs out during the torrential rain…patience. Living in a temporary home, still waiting for funds to rehabilitate the family home, damaged by the storm…patience.
Likewise, if you are a disabled plaintiff, about to receive a large sum of money, resulting from a personal injury…patience. Before signing off and accepting a personal injury award, discuss with your attorney whether or not a Special Needs Trust is required.
Setting up a special needs trust could prove to be essential in protecting your personal injury settlement funds.
Special Needs Trust
A Special Needs Trust may be needed if you are a disabled person as defined under the Social Security Act receiving means tested benefits. Settlement funds resulting from a personal injury that are transferred directly to a disabled plaintiff could result in losing their monthly benefits unless a Special Needs Trust has been created.
South Jersey Personal Injury Attorney
Consult with an experienced South Jersey Personal Injury Attorney if you are presently receiving SSI, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Section 8 Housing, Veterans Benefits, Waiver Programs, or any other type of Means Tested Benefits. Means tested benefits are those, which require a recipient to have income below a certain level in order to receive specified benefits. Once a recipient is above the financial amount permissible, his or her benefits are extinguished.
Alternatively, when a disabled plaintiff receiving means tested benefits receives a personal injury settlement and the funds are placed in a Special Needs Trust, the benefits are preserved and will continue.
Frequently the court will need to establish this type of Special Needs Trust. Prior to funding a Special Needs Trust, all Medicare and Medicaid liens must be satisfied. The Trust is created solely for the benefit of the disabled person. The Trust must be irrevocable. There are other limitations on the Trust as well.
Limitations on a Special Needs Trust include how the funds are to be spent. In many instances, the State Social Service Agency must be named as a remainder beneficiary. This means when the disabled plaintiff passes, the Trust will terminate and any funds remaining will pay back social services first. In instances where there are funds remaining after satisfaction of all liens, the funds will be dispersed to any other remainder beneficiaries named. In the event a remainder beneficiary has not been named, the funds would be apportioned according to the Intestacy Laws of the Sate of New Jersey
Make sure your South Jersey Personal Injury Attorney is aware of all the benefits you are currently receiving. In this way, the South Jersey Personal Injury Attorney will be able to advise as to how your financial award should be received.
Till next week, God bless, keep smiling and remember who’s in Your Legal Corner. Next week, YLC will discuss “Gift Card Laws, Consumer Contracts and Shopping For the Holidays.“
Victoria M. Dalton is an Attorney Of Counsel with the dedicated Law Offices of Hoffman DiMuzio. Call 856-845-8243 or fill out our contact form to receive further information.
Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational articles about the law and is not legal advice! Consult with a South Jersey Personal Injury Attorney if involved in an accident to address your legal needs.