California Birth Injury: How Special Needs Trusts Preserve Medi-Cal Benefits

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Special needs trusts are created when there’s a settlement in a birth injury case and where a patient has the benefit of receiving some form of public assistance for medical care such as Medi-Cal. Medical malpractice attorneys say that they are critical to maximize the patient’s ability to use their settlement funds while keeping their state public benefits for healthcare.

CA Birth Injury Attorney J. Niley Dorit

J. Niley Dorit, a California attorney whose practice represents birth injury victims, says that if a patient had previously been eligible for Medi-Cal to help them with paying of the cost of their medical care, once they settle a case, they would normally be disqualified from obtaining that Medi-Cal benefit anymore in California. He explained how a special needs trust can preserve those benefits:

If we take the settlement money and put it into a special trust that’s tailored just to provide for certain kinds of special needs that are not otherwise paid for by Medi-Cal, then they can retain their governmental Medi-Cal benefits plan.

They can still accept the money and settlement and use it for the things that Medi-Cal would not help pay for, most importantly for things like people to come in and provide 24-hour a day care or if they need some kind of therapy or more frequent therapy than what Medi-Cal provides.

Budgetary issues affecting Medi-Cal services

Nowadays with the budget issues, one of the biggest Medi-Cal related public benefits is in-home healthcare services, which is where the state of California will provide for a certain number of hours per month at the state’s expense in home care services. Dorit told us:

That was protected by using a special needs trust, but unfortunately, I think in-home healthcare services are either being eliminated or limited. But nonetheless, specials needs’ trusts are really, really important vehicles to use in a settlement in order to maximize the patient’s ability to both use their settlement funds and keep their state public benefits for healthcare.

If you’ve been injured due to a hospital or HMO’s negligence, contact an experienced California birth injury attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. You may be entitled to compensation.

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