You Win Some And You Lose Some: What To Understand About Civil Judgments And Social Security
When you are unable to work at your job, you may qualify for benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The monthly payment you receive can come either as a result of being approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). These programs are aimed at different situations, so the rules about things like the money that comes into your household are different too. To find out how you might fare when you win a case in court, read on.
What to Know About Civil Judgments
When you end up having to take legal action against a business or individual who has harmed you, there is always the chance of being successful. The money you win from a court case or an insurance settlement can be distributed to you in a number of ways. You might be given it all at once or you might set up a special structured payment plan so that the money is paid to you in regular payments.
SSI and Lawsuit Winnings
SSI is aimed at those with very little income or assets who are unable to work due to a medical or mental condition. The income and assets of SSI recipients are monitored very closely by the SSA. You must disclose any lawsuit winnings to the SSA if you are on SSI benefits. You won't necessarily lose your benefits when you do so, but you may have to make special arrangements for the money to be held in a trust and used only for certain reasons.
SSDI and Lawsuit Winnings
For those on SSDI, lawsuit winnings are handled differently. SSDI recipients are also closely monitored for income and must stay below a certain amount if they want to continue receiving benefits. Lawsuit winnings, in general, are not considered income but are considered an asset. The SSA has no restrictions on how many assets SSDI recipients can own. You are required, however, to report the money to the SSA. You should be cautioned that some of the lawsuit could be subject to taxation and that portion may be counted as income by the SSA. Settlements and lawsuit winnings are comprised of several different types of damage. Payments for pain and suffering, medical payments, future medical payments, and property losses are not considered income. Payment for lost wages and punitive damages, however, may be counted as unearned income. That portion is taxable and may affect your SSA benefit.
As you can tell, this can be a confusing issue. If your SSDI or SSA benefits have been suspended for any reason, speak to a Social Security lawyer about appealing the ruling and getting your situation righted again.