While receiving a personal injury settlement is vital to pay for medical bills suffered as a result of an accident, many people wonder, “How will this settlement affect my social security benefits?”
Whether you are receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, it is critical to figure out whether your personal injury settlement will affect these benefits or not. We invited our Los Angeles personal injury attorney from the Compass Law Group, LLP, to explain what happens to SSD and SSI benefits of a disabled individual who obtains a settlement after an accident.
In other words, how will accepting money from your personal injury settlement affect your SSD and SSI benefits? “To answer this question, it is important to draw a distinction between SSD and SSI benefits,” says our attorney. “These two types of government benefits have different eligibility requirements and, consequently, they are affected by settlements differently.”
- Social Security Disability (SSD, and also known as SSDI) benefits are provided to disabled people who have earned enough Social Security credits and are unable to work due to their disability that has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months. In some cases, Americans receive SSD benefits from Social Security contributions of their spouse and/or parents.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are funded by general tax revenues (as opposed to Social Security taxes) and serve as financial aid to disabled, blind, and aged Americans who have little to no income. Under this federal income supplement program, disabled people who receive SSI benefits receive cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
How does a personal injury settlement affect SSD and SSI benefits?
Now that we have established the difference between SSD and SSI benefits, our personal injury attorney in Los Angeles explains how these two types of government benefits are affected by settlements.
Disabled persons receiving SSD benefits were classified as “disabled” by the Social Security Administration’s standards and met eligibility requirements regardless of whether or not they receive any settlements while receiving these benefits. Meaning: a personal injury settlement does not affect SSD benefits.
If you are receiving SSI benefits, meanwhile, your government benefits eligibility might be disrupted after accepting a cash settlement. That is because in order to be eligible for SSI, a disabled individual must pass an asset test. Even accepting a cash settlement as low as $2,000 if you are single or $3,000 if married can make you no longer eligible for SSI benefits.
How to protect your Social Security benefits when receiving a settlement?
This brings us to: “Is it possible to protect your SSI benefits if you are about to receive a personal injury settlement and do not want to be disqualified from the SSI program?” It may be possible, says our Los Angeles personal injury attorney.
Here at the Compass Law Group, LLP we understand that losing your government benefits can be frustrating and even devastating to some. We understand that, ideally, you would want to accept a personal injury settlement to pay for your medical treatment, medications, and other medical expenses after an accident, and continue receiving SSI benefits. Our lawyers can help you with that.