SSI and Medicaid are both needs based government assistance programs which can be lost by receiving a personal injury settlement. However, proper planning can avoid this result by making what would normally be a countable resource, exempt. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently updated their on-line materials to reflect that SNTs and Able accounts are exempt from being a countable resource. The primary exempt resources are the home a Medicaid/SSI recipient lives in and the land as well as one vehicle (regardless of value) that is used for transportation. Also, household goods and personal effects are exempt.
This all becomes important when trying to qualify for SSI and/or Medicaid benefits after suffering a personal injury. Complex planning has to be done to make sure that one doesn’t lose eligibility permanently for needs based government assistance programs. SSI and most Medicaid programs tied to SSI have a 2k asset cap for those that are single and 3k if married. So exempt assets are important as they don’t count towards the cap.
To learn more about SSI resources and the program itself, SSA has a helpful webpage: https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-understanding-ssi.htm
Injury victims can find out more about special needs settlement planning by visiting: http://www.specialneedsfirm.com/injury-victims/
Attorneys can find out more about special needs settlement planning by visiting: http://www.specialneedsfirm.com/trial-lawyers/
Jason D. Lazarus is the managing partner and founder of the Special Needs Law Firm; a Florida law firm that provides legal services related to public benefit preservation, liens and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance. He is also a founding Principal and Chief Executive Officer of Synergy Settlement Services, which offers healthcare lien resolution, Medicare secondary payer compliance services, pooled trust services, settlement asset management services and structured settlements.