A majority of the government financial assistance programs provide monetary relief to eligible individuals on a monthly basis, but have strict criteria and limits for qualification. If you have been injured in an accident and have received compensation for your damages, there is a possibility that it may impact your ability to qualify or continue to get disability benefits. It is essential that you discuss this with your personal injury attorney before reaching a settlement. This is because without proper planning, your personal injury award can affect your disability benefits, or deprive you of the monetary support for a specific period.
What Disability Benefits Might be Affected by a Personal Injury Settlement
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are generally two benefits that people suffering from a disability may be given, based on whether they meet the eligibility requirements. SSDI is an entitlement program that provides workers benefits because of their disability, rendering them unable to work. It kicks in when a taxpayer sustains a disabling injury or is diagnosed with such a disease.
SSDI does not takes into account personal resources or income – instead, it considers the ability of an individual to perform their work duties after they have experienced a mental or physical impairment. Since it is a federal entitlement program and not a needs-based program, your personal injury award will not affect the disability benefits you are availing through SSDI. This means that you do not have to worry about losing SSDI benefits when you receive the settlement reward.
On the other hand, SSI is a needs-based program that provides people monetary support when they reach a certain income level or have cross the poverty line. You are not required to have an employment history to be eligible for these benefits – instead, the qualification requirements are based on your amount of income and assets. When you receive a personal injury settlement reward, your income level change and move above the preset limits, disqualifying you or reducing the amount of disability benefits you are getting under SSI.
How to Protect Your Disability Benefits
It can be catastrophic for people receiving disability benefits to be stripped of their monthly source of income on which they depend for numerous daily life necessities. Some of the critical medical expenses, such as therapy, prescription medications, nursing, home modifications, and surgical procedures that are covered by such benefits can quickly consume the settlement proceeds. However, the good news is that there are several ways to prevent this from happening.
Establishing a special needs trust can help disabled individuals to keep their settlement reward into a trust, allowing them to preserve their disability benefits. However, since it is a complex process to establish a special needs trust, you may have to work with your attorney to help you understand the rules and regulations, and the right way to enforce this trust.
Every case is different, and it is best to work with an attorney who have sound knowledge of Illinois laws and regulations pertaining to disability benefits and personal injury, and how they may affect each other. Harold W. Conick & Associates Ltd. has been successfully representing clients for over 30 years to get their rightful benefits. Contact us today at (800) 608-8881 to schedule a consultation with our Social Security disability attorney.