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Expecting a Mesh Settlement? Will a Special Needs Trust Work for You?

steth 185Many women find themselves in this situation – they are about to receive a settlement as a result of a personal injury lawsuit, in this case a pelvic mesh injury.    But if she also receives any means-tested government disability benefits, this settlement might not seem like good news at all. Settlement proceeds payable either as a lump-sum or as an annuity payment could cause those benefits to be reduced or lost entirely.  

So what can you do to keep your benefits, but still take advantage of the settlement you are entitled to?

Mesh News Desk editor, Jane Akre interviews Bryan Clontz of Charitable Solutions LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in charitable giving, about options for women facing this dilemma. The company is not sponsoring this content or this website.bryan clontz

Akre:  This is a common problem, a woman receives or is about to receive a lump sum settlement which is the good news however any dollars could reduce her other benefits such as Social Security Disability or Medicaid. That’s what Trudy Thomas told Mesh News Desk happened to her.  (See Patient Profile on Trudy). Explain how a special needs trust may help avoid this problem?

Clontz:   “Luckily, there is a solution. The special needs trust (“SNT,” and sometimes called a supplemental needs trust) is a government-approved way to supplement the benefits you receive.  If you receive a settlement from your mesh injuries, Social Security Disability benefits (and Medicare for that matter) are not impacted as they aren’t financially means tested.  If there is no income or asset test, then the claimants are fine.  But SSI (Supplemental Security Income), Medicaid, SNAP Food Assistance and Subsidized Housing (HUD/ Section 8) are all asset/income based and can be lost in light of a settlement.”

 

Akre: Do you still get the settlement monies?

Clontz:  “First, your settlement will go into a trust instead of directly to you. A trust is a legal relationship where one party (the trustee) holds money, property, or other assets for the benefit of another party (the beneficiary).

“In the case of a SNT, the proceeds of your settlement are held irrevocably (meaning you cannot undo the transfer) by the trustee, who can pay for your supplemental needs. You keep receiving government benefits for your basic needs. The assets in the SNT are not counted as your personal assets, and will not disqualify you from benefits. The trustee can pay for living expenses which your benefits do not cover.”

Akre: When you say it pays for your supplemental needs what do you mean and who is the trustee?

Clontz: “Generally speaking, these expenses are considered “comforts.” For example, basic medical care, food, shelter, and utilities might be covered by your benefits, but personal care services, electronics, clothing, furniture, and many other categories are not. The list of approved expenses is long and complicated, so you should talk to an attorney to see if an SNT could provide for your needs. If your settlement is more modest, you may be better suited to a pooled disability trust, discussed in the PDT article below.”

 

Akre: How do I know my money is secured?

Clontz:  “In 1993, Congress created exemptions allowing disabled persons to exclude certain resources that would otherwise disqualify them for benefits, including settlement proceeds, if those resources were placed in trust. Today, that authorization is found in Title 42 of the U.S. Code at Section 1396p(d)(4).

“States and benefits agencies may have their own laws, rules, and regulations dealing with SNTs as well, and these can affect how your SNT works. However, if you, someone you know, or someone you represent receives government benefits and may also be receiving a settlement, a SNT is definitely a possible solution that will ensure a comfortable lifestyle.”

Disclaimer:  This information should not be relied on as tax or legal advice. You should seek your own counsel for such advice.

 

Prolene mesh

Prolene mesh

Akre: Many women may find a pooled disability trust might be the way to avoid having your assets reduced IF the amount of settlement is a smaller, yet you need to rely on government assistance.  Ryan Raffin, JD of Emergency Assistance Foundation, Inc. a nonprofit organization, discussed Pooled Disability Trusts in the following article. He will be available to answer questions in the comments section below.Ryan raffin

 

An Introduction to Pooled Disability Trusts 

A pooled disability trust (“PDT”) is a cousin of the special or supplemental needs trust (“SNT”). The SNT was discussed in an earlier post, which has important background information on this topic. If you are disabled, receiving government benefits, and have received or will receive a settlement from a personal injury lawsuit, then a PDT may be an appealing option for you.

What is a PDT? Like a SNT, it is a way for you to preserve your government benefits while still allowing you to receive some comforts beyond what those benefits allow.

A PDT is a type of trust, which is a legal relationship where another party (the trustee) irrevocably holds the assets for your benefit (you are the beneficiary of the trust). Congress authorized it at the same time as the SNT, and it is found in the same section of Title 42 of the U.S. code – section 1396p. However, it is different from a SNT in some important ways.

First, as the PDT’s title implies, it is actually a pool of many trust subaccounts. Each subaccount is for the benefit of a disabled individual. By pooling their assets together into the larger PDT, they can reduce their share of trust administration expenses while maximizing returns on investments. Like with an SNT, the trustees make payments for the expenses that government benefits do not – additional medical services or therapy, household care, electronics, clothing, furniture, and many more.

The reduced expenses point towards the other main distinguishing feature of the PDT. PDTs are typically more appealing to people with fewer assets to contribute. If your settlement is less than $100,000, it might be difficult to find a qualified trustee willing to administer it.

Luckily, most PDTs are not as strict in their minimum requirements. Even better, most are nonetheless experienced in administering disability trusts. Further, the law states that only nonprofits can run PDTs, so you know that the trustees will not be charging huge fees for their services.

Another important consideration is that not every PDT is the same. They have different requirements for who can join. For example, they may prefer specific disabilities, have different minimum contributions to the PDT, and often, they have different geographic requirements. Like SNTs, state laws and regulations can affect PDT administration, so PDTs may be state- or region-specific.

With these considerations in mind, a PDT is often a cost-effective way for a disabled person to move a more limited amount of assets into trust to pay for expenses which their government benefits will not cover.

This information should not be relied on as tax or legal advice. You should seek your own counsel for such advice.

 

46 Comments

  1. jbroken says:

    What about doing it up in a whole life insurance. Its a good way also I was told. No charges for handling. If I’m wrong someone explain this one. Thought of the two you shared also. Thanks for this, GOD Bless Good info

  2. msm says:

    Before anyone panics, this applies only to SSI benefits and NOT to SSDI benefits. Here’s the difference:

    Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available to workers who have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits. SSDI is an earned benefit that focuses on physical and mental impairments that are severe enough to prevent people from engaging in their normal occupations or any other work. Their impairment must be expected to last for at least 12 months or to end in death. SSDI IS NOT AFFECTED BY A SETTLEMENT.

    Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are available to low-income individuals who have either never worked or who haven’t earned enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. SSI pays benefits to low-income people who are 65 or older; to adults who are disabled (based on the same definition used by SSDI) or blind; and to children who are disabled and blind. The program is only for people who have very limited income and assets. If you are receiving SSI benefits, then you may need to discuss the need for a trust with your attorney.

  3. Yes I get Social Security Benifits will I lose my Social Security Benifits when I receive my settlements from my law suite? Are the company’s for Johson& Jonhson and Eticon near settlements for the plaintiffs?

    Linda Karen Miller

  4. ed says:

    I just read this article and I don’t understand WHY you would report on such an issue ? In other words, most of the mesh settlement clients are not disabled to the point where they will need a trustee to handle their finances. And even if some one is in need of a trustee, I think they would have a family member or close friend handle their affairs rather then some one they don’t know, like an attorney. So in my opinion, I feel that your posting this article was done in bad taste.

    • Jane Akre says:

      Gosh I thought it was clear. If you are receiving disability or funds (yes many are disabled) they will be reduced if you have a settlement coming. It’s the only way the extra bump in your income is not considered, therefore you can protect what you are already getting. That problem happened to Trudy,,, see the story. Hope that is clearer.

      • SickAndTiredOfBeingSickAndTired says:

        Thank you so much for this very important information! For those it does apply to it is VERY important news. Not everyone has family or wants family involved in their financial well being. No bad taste detected here. Just Jane looking out for everyone.

  5. Angry says:

    Thank You Jane for trying to help on this issue. I think it is super important to gain as much info as we can. Knowledge is power, power to try to protect your self. There has been so many unpleasant surprises dumped on all of us who are trying to cope with the rotten hand that we were forced to hold. The more we understand (ahead of time) even if it does not pertain to us right now in this moment, you never know what tomorrow will bring. I was aware of this issue and with so many of us not being able to have lawyers who are taking the time NOW to talk about how these out comes may hit one in the face, until your smacked with it, then its too late. There are a lot of issues I am learning, the hard way, issues that no one even mentioned to me. And when the issues surfaced wanting to know why NO ONE on your legal team ever mentioned it, its almost like too bad so sad, there is nothing you can do. This is the price one pays for not being educated on legal matters that are attached to this complicated mess. Sadly we didn’t sign up for any of this and of course we are all learning the hard way. I really appreciate all of your help Jane ! You have helped so many of us in so many ways.

  6. anna says:

    If I was in need of ssdi after settlement, would it oause a problem with ssdi.

  7. anonymous says:

    P.S. When reading through trudy’s story the only thing that was reported being cutback was food stamps if you read the entire article it says she was getting $650 a month and after she got her settlement she was still getting $650 a month but her food stamps was cut back to 89 dollars a month there was no change in the Social Security disability benefits

    • Jane Akre says:

      Yes you and msm are correct.. Social Security disability benefits are not affected. I added info to make that clear. Thank you smart readers!!

  8. Bilal says:

    Im in severe pain daily,testicle,spermatic cord,vas defrens,spine…Vascular system damaged…i walk with a cane,i have problems getting up and down,doin house chores…etc…my question is why isnt attorneys takeing mesh cases as if its a conspiracy or some sort of torture tactic…”Can somebody,anybosy respond please?”

    • Jane Akre says:

      Hello-

      A response here. I’m assuming you are a man and there are so few attorneys address hernia mesh, even though it’s made of the same material. Please contact Bruce Rosenberg 954-701-5094 who is himself hernia mesh injured and has the latest info on doctors and help available. I keep looking for hernia attorneys so if you have found one, please reply.

  9. anonymous says:

    Thank you Jane appreciate it very much without you we would all know nothing so I know sometimes you have to go back and clarify things I can imagine how busy you’ve been and how much work you put into this site you really are a blessing and we appreciate it very much

  10. annonynous says:

    I’m currently on disability. I understand they can’t do anything with that. But I’m on Medicare and Medicaid. Please tell me what I need to do to protect my settlement. If ethicon is the last to settle I have time to change what ever it is I need to do. Thanks Jane without your input on everything I’d be lost.I. am 61 years old

    • Barb says:

      I thought there was an article Jane posted way back concerning Medicaid and Medicare It was my understanding they were going to wave the right to know what our settlements were. Curious if anyone knows for sure if this is a fact or rumor. My paralegal told me I would still be able to keep my medicaid. The government betrayed us and for that since they did us so wrong we can shuffle if you know what I mean!!! And since any government insurance doesn’t/didn’t pay full price for all our test, procedures doctor visits then our reimbursement will be exactly what they did pay!! I believe down the road its going to be so hard fr us all to find proper health care we all deserve even if we decide to by a supplimentary insurance!! I will be looking fr Jane’s report when the deposition is done with JNJ and they must answere more questions by a letter in an article Jane so kindly provided that I just read!! I’m going to start sending emails, calling every number I can find, start enough HAVIC about these complications make them aware of all awards if lucky to go to court!! Someone higher then JNJ needs to step in and do a complete investigation on everything they have ever produced! I also think Judge Goodwin should hod them in content for destroying the documents!! My lips will never be sealed until ALL MESH INJURED WOMAN/MEN GET THE HUGE COMPENSATION THE LORD KNOWS WE SO DESERVE!!!

  11. Tracie says:

    Hello Jane,

    Does this apply in England too?

    Kind regards

    Tracie, mesh victim.

  12. Deborah says:

    So this means , I may continue getting SSI, even after settlement?

    • Barb says:

      Deborah go to answere Number 2 on this page it is clearly stated what happens. I’ve been on SSDI since 2004 for an unrelated issue other then mesh. I don’t get rental help, food stamps, help with utilities, only medicaid. re-read the entire article,

  13. Gay Courter says:

    I’m currently the trustee for several special need trusts for injured youth under different circumstances. I am not an attorney. Your trustee can be a relative or friend, if one is truly needed. This qualifies the youths for other benefits like medicaid etc. the trusts pay for all sorts of things, at my discretion. These youths who have become responsible adults advise me what they need.

    • Jane Akre says:

      The main benefit it to offset it as an “asset” as I see it…..therefore not lower your other benefits you receive.

    • Barb says:

      Gary so your basically talking about adults or adult children that cannot manage money pay bills, food ect? I’m going to be looking for something down the road when AMS settles my case where I could live off interest and make as much interest possible! The government has already got their sticky finger’s in and will be reimbursed for procedures performed, however since our Government does not pay 100% what doctors, specialist, test, hospitals would recieve if better insurance, One of my doctor’s I have had for a long time starting October 1 2015 is no longer dealing with government insurance they get 10-20% for their amazing care, however the LPN in this office will continue pain management, If I op to stay I would have to pay out of pocket cost anywhere from $130-$1,500 per appointment. So now I have been put in a place where since I’m on SSDI not mesh related I’m being forced to reffering to the worst doctors ever!! Since I have nerve damage little by little medicare/medicaid has been putting limits on them for treatment for their patience so I’m only able to have 1 more faucet injectiion. The government is putting so many restrictions on many doctors in Maine so many are dropping all government insurance. They don’t get paid on a timely basis!! I know of many hospitals here also are having a hard time keeping up and running do to the bilions of dollars that is owed to them from medicare/medicaid/Mainecare!!

    • Annamarie says:

      You all should go on to www. The Settlement Alliance.com website and read. This site answers questions like Special Needs Trust, Medical Custodial Accounts, Medicare Set-Aside accounts, negotiations downward any outstanding debt, PDT, and so much more. Go to the website and open up the tabs running down the left side of page. I was really educated on what to do before receiving any pay outs. Check it out you won’t be sorry and don’t forget to take notes these are questions u can ask your lawyer. Blessings mesh sisters…

  14. Sheree says:

    Just wondering when people are going to be notified of what their settlement offer will be. I have 3 mesh inside me. It is miserable. Feels like someone stabbing you. The pain even wakes me up at night. Do you have an approximate date with each manufacturer?

    • Barb says:

      Sheree, gosh so sorry!! One good thing about this site and thank GOD for Jane is we seem to meet new people under unfortunate circumstances. I spoke with my paralegal the other day If you have AMS they are working on 1000 cases a day, hoping to get settlements all completed by October 2015. As for all other’s except JNJ they are starting to realize that they should consider settling however they are working on some type of plan of settlement. Contact your attorney firm and ask to speak to the paralegal that’s remember communication!! JNJ as I have understood will use stall tactics until the judge will and he can step in and mandate them! So sorry……………….you really should get your mesh out however that in itself is a battle finding first a surgeon to listen put your @@@ boots on and start making noise!!

    • Barb says:

      Sheree has you manufacturer decided to settle out of court?? The only one so far is AMS@ The other;s are supposed to be considering a plan and working with attorney’s is my understanding it could be awhile!! JNJ/ETHICON will be the last and believe Judge Goodwin will mandate them! Do you have insurance? Jane posted an article about a doctor on this website it wouldn’t hurt to contact his office, it states his staff will help make arrangements for motel/motel, be picked up at airport and money is not his concern his concern is to help mesh injured woman with removal/complications!! Sounds like you have mesh erosion………..call his office nothing to loose maybe something to gain!

      • Karin says:

        I also have a mesh implant that has to be removed. I am having more problems, pain, etc. Let alone what it’s doing to my marriage. I take a change of clothes every where I go Do to leaking. It has gotten so bad that I use poise plug, thick pad and still soak through my clothes. I’m so tired of the embarrassment and irritation, tired of it All . Can someone please help me out with the information on this dr. In the article your talking about I can’t seem to find It. I could really use it seeings my doctor won’t do my surgery unless I stop smoking. I’m working on it but it’s not easy and I have to have surgery by December. Thank you for all the information It has really helped me. I’ve learned ALOT.

    • Caroline says:

      Hello Jane. I hope you and yours are well. Thank YOU for going above and beyond the call of duty for us!… @Sheree~ OH, LORD~ I thought the pain would take me away from here! You are telling the TRUTH on that one!… They mess us up~ then make excuses as to WHY they can’t SEE us, almost literally, anymore… And it’s SO hard to find another surgeon who’s willing to go behind the primary Specialist… With ALL THE technology and research material being accrued daily, there has to be something beneficial to alleviate the suffering of the mangled and tossed~asides…

  15. angela says:

    I was disable before the mesh.but had a life now I am in worse shape.i get disability.was counting on a lump sum pay off my home,get more surgery that Medicaid don’t cover,and leg braces to help me walk,that Medicaid don’t cover,things I have done without so long.now I don’t get what I should.why cant I get it all at once.i endured pain surgeries 4 surgeries so far.my stomach has stimulator,my bowel needs one .and keep finding organs affected by the mesh.my bladder needs to be fixed,the sling is gone the damage remains and still problems from he sling.keep finding damage from the poison implanted in me.the lump sum was to help us live again,i have medical problems Medicaid wont cover,15,000.00 for leg braces and a week to stay out of town and be fitted.thats not cheep.a doctor out of state to fix my pelvic,my insurance don’t cover out of state doctors.and my state don’t have the doctor I need,so I will suffer pain,depression,and go on from the distruction the mesh has done to me the rest of my life.i had hope now I have none,back to daily crying and depression hopelness.i was going to pay for help .lump sum to get most my life back and that wont be there because I get disability.why not give me lump sum to live my life.cut the ssi and let me buy medical insurance.its been abuse to me from the day of the implant .years taken away.i never commited a crime.life is so unfair.i am of sound mind..i am capable of making my own choices.4 surgeries so far and need more and I am done this way.i get 733 per month disability .not good to live on thats all get..i had hope for a better life,never been able to work..no hope or help seems like it makes me want to give up.i feal violated and helpless

    • Barb says:

      Get yourself into counseling all government insurance pays for that!! I’m now in and it’s the best thing I’ve done! I have refu

      sed to let the mesh ruin my mind as much damage it has done to my body!! Yes we all as well are deressed………good luck

  16. Barb says:

    Sounds to me maybe you have not been able to work enough to put in your SSDI & gt; As long as it’s stated in your Doctors notes that these operations concerning mesh/injuries from mesh will be needed at some point down the road my paralegal told me those surgeries in the future will be considered in the settlement. Keep in mind these settlements of the amount we all will be awarded are still based on individual injuries only mesh related! Who told you no lump sum? I’ being told that from my attorney’s, there maybe 2 checks but not quite sure.

  17. mary babb says:

    Thank you so much Jane that is something to think about I had no clue I have had 5 surgery’s while they were taking it out cut my colon into 5 mo. later reattached it back after that pain, infection and lots more than 3 more surgery’s and still not better I am on my x husbands social security and a small check from ssi but i still get around well but always in pain thank you again

  18. Donna says:

    Morning Jane, I just saw a new order signed on July 23rd MDL 2325 indicating the settlements as “structured settlements”. I was hoping that wouldn’t happen. Thoughts?

  19. honey says:

    Good site very helpful for newbie.im getting a settlement and im on ssi is it clear if i report it ill lose it by choice.if i do a trust i can keep it.and could my 29 year old daughter be my trustee?

  20. Sheila T says:

    I have received the papers to settle my mesh lawsuit. I have been offered $20k with the attorney getting 40%. I will receive $12k. I am on SSDI, Medicare, QMB Medicaid, help paying for my prescriptions and food stamps. I am also going to receive a personnel injury settlement from a car accident which still is being settled. I’m not sure which trust I should put my money in to keep my benefits. I can not live with out my benefits. I receive $853 SSDI and $108 in FS. I receive QMB Medicaid because I’m below a certain income amount. Please advise on which Trust I should do. I am 59 and female.

    • Jane Akre says:

      Sheila, I”m not an attorney but a special needs trust will protect your benefits from being lowered is my understanding. It might be worth a visit to an attorney to discuss that possibility, then again, for the 40% your lawyer is getting, more than you receive, perhaps they can pay for the special needs trust. Just a thought.

  21. Tracy says:

    All my papers were returned in June. I have yet to hear back from them! How long is this really taking? Then they had me in the wrong tier so had to get that to them. Y August

    • Anonymous says:

      They can take as long as they want I don’t know who’s company is that you’re working with but some of us are refusing their insulting settlements I’m not going to walk away and let my attorney or anybody else get more than I should that’s ridiculous so some of this may have to wait 5 10 15 years before we get our settlements but I’ll be damned if my attorney is going to get more than me and I’ll be damned if I’m going to accept a settlement that’s going to put me into poverty and be desolate so if you’re getting a good settlement be glad that you probably within a year or two you’ll have it many of us will have to wait many many years yet

      • Jane Akre says:

        Yes. I’ve never quite understood…. why is it the attny gets 40% percent off the top rather than taking out costs, fees, insurance then the 40%. AND why is it 40%, with an MDL most did not do individual case workup. It was supposed to streamline the case preparation process. They have access to common benefit work where all can share in an MDL. I also believe some had associates do the common benefit work at $75 an hour while they will the common benefits fund at $500 an hour. What is happening here?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Just to make it clear I have discussed it with an attorney and if your on Social Security disability it will not affect your settlement or your benefits if you are on Social Security insurance where you get above and beyond what you would for just basic Social Security Disability than those are the ones that would reduced according to whatever you get from your settlement this is because they are paying you above and beyond what you’ve already earned for your Social Security disability there is a difference if you are disabled you will get your basic Social Security Disability that will not be affected by your payouts this is what I’ve been advised by the Social Security Department and an attorney so all of those of you that are panicking must be the ones that get a little bit above and beyond your basic Social Security Disability Benefits the ones that get extra amount for social security insurance again if you get the basic Social Security disability benefit and nothing above and beyond that because you have a low low income in those benefits will not be affected by any payouts and that is from the Social Security Department that I talk to

  23. Dawn says:

    I don’t agree with the settlement amount that they want me to take. Based on a point system they told me if I don’t agree with it and have my papers signed and returned by deadline that they will dropped me as a client and I will be out of a settlement. And they would put a lien of 40% on any law suit that I get. Not sure what to do they gave no points for mental stress loss of sexual relationships no points for marriage break down loss wages past or present medical problems. I don’t understand why they don’t have to pay for attorney fees our medical expenses. If we hadn’t had the defective mesh implanted we wouldn’t need attorney or past and future medical. What is the deal with all of this all of us women need a Erin Brockovich to help us fight these big city attorney who just want to get rich and leave us with crumbs. I truly believe my attorney doesn’t give a shit about any of us. Where can I find my Erin?????

    • Jane Akre says:

      Sorry, Erin took a pass on this issue years ago in the US when it was brought to her attention. What is the name of this law firm?

  24. Dawn says:

    Help me understand!!!

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