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Considering Eligibility for Public Benefits in Settling a Client's Claim for Damages

By Douglas Sea & Andrew Cogdell

When settling a client’s claim for damages, an attorney must consider the settlement’s possible effect on the client’s present and future eligibility for public benefits such as SSI (Supplemental Security Income), Medicaid, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and public housing. Many public benefit programs impose limits on the amount of income and assets that a recipient may have. For some clients, a (d)(4) Supplemental Needs Trust offers a beneficial way to structure a settlement award.

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