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Tips When Obtaining a Recovery for a Client On Medicaid and SSI

This month’s ‘Tips and Tales’ focuses on what needs to be done before distributing proceeds to a client who receives Medicaid or SSI benefits. Feel free to use this checklist in your office:

  1. At inception of the lawsuit ask the client whether he/she receives Medicaid, SSI, Food Stamps, HUD housing (or other financially sensitive government benefits). Document your file.
  2. Request a copy of the client’s benefit notice(s).
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 throughout the litigation and at time of mediation, settlement or, trial.
  4. Advise the client in writing that receipt of the net proceeds can impact continued eligibility for government benefits and you recommend that the client obtain advice from a specialist. Ask the client to acknowledge in writing receipt of the letter. Read the Grillo case which held a trial attorney liable for malpractice for failing to inform the client that her daughter would lose Medicaid and SSI as a result of receiving the settlement proceeds.
  5. Recommend that the client explore the option (pros and cons), with a board certified elder law attorney, of staying on government benefits compared to voluntarily terminating government benefits and purchasing a private health insurance policy.
  6. Document your file with the elder law attorney’s opinion letter so that if the client chooses to risk losing his/her government benefits you will have done all that you are required to do.

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