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  • Steven Linde

Can an Unexpected Sum of Money Be a Bad Thing?

Updated: Dec 24, 2019

It can if you’re currently receiving public benefits.


Receiving an unexpected sum of money can jeopardize your public benefits. So you better act fast!

Public benefits (such as Medicaid and SSI) can be difficult to obtain, but they are very easy to lose. Most needs-based public benefit programs (such as Medicaid that pays for long-term and other medical care needs) have strict financial eligibility requirements that must be maintained as long as you are receiving the benefit. With asset limits being so low (for example: the asset limit for an unmarried applicant is $2,000), even the slightest change in circumstance can turn you from eligible to financially ineligible almost instantly.


Which begs the question: what should you do if an unanticipated sum of money falls into your lap and changes your financial situation?


The first thing to do is: realize that this happens more often than you think. Lump sum gains come in various forms, including inheritance, legal settlements, money gifts, gambling winnings, and more. The unexpected, nonrecurring nature of these gains makes them nearly impossible to predict, and therefore difficult to plan for, but they are not without a solution.


Which is why the next and most important thing to do is: talk to our lawyers right away. Without careful and timely strategizing and planning, your needs-based benefits may lapse or terminate altogether, leaving you in a worse situation than if you never receiving the lump sum at all. Luckily, there are various ways for us to help you keep, invest and/or use the lump sum without letting it affect your public benefits. Just like we do when we first qualify you for benefits, we will evaluate your specific financial situation and devise a legal plan that will fit your needs and avoid interruption to your benefits.


Final step: don’t panic. Yes, you don’t want to lose your benefits; but losing your cool won’t solve anything. The thought of getting an unexpected sum of money usually evokes a positive reaction. So smile! Just be sure to act quickly before that smile turns upside-down (most agencies require you to report your change in financial circumstance within 10 days.) Taking action as soon as possible, even before the funds are transferred to you, will increase your likelihood of success.


When it’s all said and done, following these simple steps will put you in the best position to not only keep your public benefits, but to also keep your peace of mind.


Our attorneys are here to assist you and your loved ones. We serve clients throughout Florida. For more information or for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION please contact us today by calling 305.722.5533 or emailing us at info@segallindelaw.com!

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