Medicaid is a health insurance program for low-income individuals of any age. It is an important program that provides health insurance to more than 2 million Washingtonians. In Washington state, like in many other states, Medicaid is a means-tested program. This means that eligibility for Medicaid is based on your income and assets.
If you have been injured in an accident and are ready to pursue an injury settlement, you may be wondering: does a personal injury settlement affect Medicaid?
How a Supreme Court Ruling Affects Medicaid Eligibility After a Personal Injury Settlement
In a recent landmark decision, the Supreme Court has established that state-managed Medicaid programs have the authority to assert a stake in personal injury settlements. This means that states are able to seek reimbursement for the Medicaid expenditures allocated to a patient who subsequently obtains a settlement in a personal injury case. The Court’s ruling holds a broad scope, encompassing all financial aspects of such claims, comprising not only medical expenses but also damages for pain and suffering. Consequently, individuals settling smaller to medium-sized personal injury claims may encounter significant challenges due to this ruling. However, it’s worth noting that if you receive a substantial settlement running into millions of dollars for a personal injury, the impact of this decision on you is likely to be less severe. Moreover, even if Medicaid does not actively pursue reimbursement as a result of your claim, your eligibility for Medicaid benefits could potentially be jeopardized by the settlement itself.
Does a Personal Injury Settlement Affect Medicaid in Washington State?
When you receive a personal injury settlement, it can potentially impact your Medicaid eligibility and benefits because it affects your income and assets. Here are some things to consider when it comes to personal injury settlements and how they may affect personal access to Medicaid:
A personal injury settlement is considered income for Medicaid purposes. Depending on the size of the settlement, it could push your income above the Medicaid income limits, which may affect your eligibility. In Washington state, Medicaid also has asset limits. If your personal injury settlement is substantial, it could increase your total assets to a level that exceeds the Medicaid asset limits, potentially making you ineligible for Medicaid until you spend down your assets to the allowable limit.
How to Protect Your Settlement and Medicaid Benefits
There are two main ways to reduce the chance of a personal injury settlement affecting your access to Medicaid:
- Structured settlements: If you receive your settlement as a structured settlement with periodic payments, rather than a lump sum, this may have a different impact on Medicaid eligibility. That’s because the settlement could be considered income only when each payment is received.
- Special needs trust: In some cases, individuals with disabilities or special needs might use a special needs trust to protect their Medicaid eligibility while still benefiting from a personal injury settlement. Funds placed in a properly structured special needs trust may not be counted as assets for Medicaid eligibility purposes.
Should you wait to file your claim?
It’s vital that you receive the medical care you may need to recover from your injuries, so you may want to wait to file your claim if you’re at risk of losing Medicaid benefits due to a personal injury settlement. Consult a local personal injury lawyer to discuss what damages you’re entitled to, and carefully weigh your options. If you receive Medicaid, your funding from the program may stop. However, you may discover that the settlement you’re entitled to will still provide you with funds after the state has taken their share.
However, it’s important that you don’t wait too long to file your personal injury claim. Most states, including Washington, have a statute of limitations in place on claims. In Washington, there’s a three-year time limit to file personal injury claims, with few exceptions.
Keep in mind that Medicaid rules and regulations can change, so it’s essential to consult with a legal professional or a Medicaid expert for specific advice regarding your situation.
Attorneys who specialize in personal injury law and Medicaid planning in Washington State understand how your specific settlement will affect your Medicaid eligibility and what steps you can take to protect your benefits, if necessary. They can help you navigate the complex rules and regulations surrounding Medicaid and personal injury settlements.
Seek the help of a personal injury lawyer
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!Top of Form