What is a Structured Settlement?
If you’re not sure what a Structured Settlement is or what a Certified Structured Settlement Consultant (CSSC) does, you’re not alone; most people don’t know exactly what those terms mean.
A Structured Settlement ensures you’ll have the money you need—now, and in the future. If you’ve been involved in a lawsuit or a personal injury or a workers’ compensation claim, and you’re in the process of settling that claim, our role is to put together your settlement. We determine the fixed expenses you will have from your injury—the money you will absolutely need now and in the future each month for medical care, attendant care, lost or diminished income, and other needs.
Fixed expenses are very important—you never want to be in the position of not having the money you need each month. Instead, we create a Structured Settlement for you, putting enough money in a funding vehicle that will pay you what you need periodically, rather than providing it all at once in a lump sum.
What does the process look like?
After the case has settled, but before the funds get dispersed, we go through all of your expenses, income and government benefits (present and future). We help you determine your fixed expenses related to your injury, traumatic event or other kind of lawsuit, and we may choose to put that money into a Structured Settlement annuity—a customized fixed payment that you could receive for a lifetime—with a highly rated insurance company or other partner. We don’t want to do anything risky with the settlement, because we want to try to guarantee that you will have what you need.
As for any non-structured money, we will talk with you about what you want in the future, and help you create a plan to achieve your goals.
What is so special about a CSSC – can’t a regular financial adviser help me?
Most financial advisers cannot offer you a Structured Settlement annuity; only an appointed consultant is able to work with life insurance companies and other partners to offer you the annuity explained above. And our expertise goes far beyond the financial. There are only around 600 Structured Settlement Annuity Consultants in the entire United States. We truly specialize in helping people who are facing injuries, trauma, and the major upheaval that comes from even the most positive sudden influx of money. We specialize in helping people like you.
Why should I structure my settlement instead of taking a lump sum?
The key to a Structured Settlement is saving you from the stress of worrying about your financial future or keeping track of a lot of paperwork and expenses. For years, we’ve worked with people facing the same challenges you are, and one thing we understand is how stressful it is to go through a lawsuit. We know from experience that people who are stressed often find it difficult to make good decisions. The last thing you need is to put yourself in a position where you’re even more stressed.
Also, let’s face it: with a lump sum, it can be tempting to spend the money now, leaving you with little or nothing for the years of real expenses you know you are going to have. A Structured Settlement gives you safety and security, because you have made a plan to help pay for your future needed expenses.
Finally, thanks to a section in the code of the Internal Revenue Service, a Structured Settlement gives you tax relief. You don’t have to pay income tax on the money that is from a physical injury or wrongful death case, and you can defer paying income tax on cases not involving physical injury or wrongful death.
Is there a time limit on when I need to decide to structure my settlement?
There is ONLY ONE TIME that you can make the decision to structure your settlement: NOW, during your settlement process. Once you take possession of your settlement funds, your window of opportunity is closed; you can’t decide to structure your settlement later. That’s why it’s so important to have the aid of an expert now, to help you work through finance-related questions as you make this decision. This is where we come in.
How does a Structured Settlement affect my Needs-Based benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and my Medicaid (or Medi-Cal in California)?
If you qualify for SSI and Medicaid, we can help protect those benefits by setting up what is called a special needs trust that is funded with a portion of your settlement money. Your settlement will not disqualify you from getting your benefits, as long as it’s structured the right way. The money in the trust will help to cover whatever your other benefits do not cover in the future.
What do you do with the rest of the money, beyond my fixed expenses?
If you were awarded an amount beyond what you absolutely need to cover medical and other costs related to your settlement, we can help you create a plan for those funds according to what you want and need to do in the future.
This is where the human side of Structured Settlements comes in. The changes in your physical and financial state can be challenging; we can help you navigate those challenges. Not only are we experts at helping you structure your finances, we have extensive and ongoing training and experience helping people with life-changing events cope with personal, emotional, family and social changes. Very few Structured Settlement professionals have this type of in-depth education and insight. Together, we can help you achieve the life you want to lead.