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How Does a Legal Settlement Impact SSI Benefits?

September 30, 2020 Blog

Hire a Skilled Tampa Social Security Disability Lawyer

If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in Florida, then you may be concerned about maintaining your eligibility, particularly if you have received a financial windfall due to a positive outcome in a legal settlement or lawsuit.

So, how does a monetary award received in a legal settlement or lawsuit impact the receipt of SSI benefits?  Let’s take a look.

SSI Eligibility May Be Affected by Lawsuit Proceeds

SSI is a needs-based benefits program, and as such, there is an “income” limit on eligibility for SSI benefits.  As of 2020, the monthly unearned income cap for SSI eligibility is $803 — if you receive $803 or more, then you may not be eligible to receive SSI benefits.

The proceeds from a legal settlement or lawsuit will count as income for the purpose of SSI eligibility, and assuming that the monetary value of those proceeds is significant, they are almost certain to disrupt the receipt of benefits.  This may cause problems for the SSI claimant, who was otherwise expecting to make use of both SSI benefits and the lawsuit proceeds.

It’s important to note that there are various strategies for “holding” assets — including the proceeds from a lawsuit — so as not to interfere with eligibility (these assets will not count towards the income limit).  SSI benefits can therefore be maintained through careful planning.

Using a Special Needs Trust to Maintain Eligibility

In Florida, and elsewhere, the use of a Special Needs Trust (SNT) can ensure that you can take advantage of the legal settlement/lawsuit proceeds without disrupting SSI eligibility.  The SNT gives limited access to the funds for specific use-cases.

SNTs work because the funds within them are not technically owned by the beneficiary (e.g. the SSI claimant).  Instead, the funds are held by the trust entirely, and so they are not counted in such a way as to disrupt SSI eligibility — through planned payouts, the funds from the SNT will merely supplement SSI benefits, making life quite a bit easier for the beneficiary.

Contact the Office of Mike Murburg, P.A. for Assistance

Attorney Mike Murburg has decades of experience focusing on the representation of Social Security disability claimants, including those who are struggling to maintain their eligibility for SSI benefits.  Over the years, Attorney Murburg has helped clients navigate the challenges of claim submissions, administrative appeals, and litigation — whatever necessary to secure a favorable result.

This commitment to client-centered advocacy is critically important in the Social Security context, as the client may have a number of unique concerns that must be addressed throughout the process.

If you’d like to speak to an experienced Tampa social security disability lawyer about your SSI eligibility and how you can maintain it, call 813-264-5363 or submit a message through our website to schedule a free and confidential consultation.  We look forward to assisting you.