If you’re in the midst of a financial emergency and don’t know where to turn, you are not alone. Millions of Americans don’t have the funds they need to handle an unexpected financial crisis. When faced with costly car repairs, medical bills or unemployment, those receiving settlement payments can cash out to get the money they need fast.
- Written By Rachel Christian
Writer & Researcher
Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance with FinCert, a division of the Institute for Financial Literacy. She is committed to promoting financial literacy and making complex financial topics accessible to readers from all walks of life.Read More
- Reviewed By Roger Wohlner
- Updated: May 8, 2023
You Can Get Money from Your Settlement Faster
Courts and financial entities typically award structured settlements in cases where a large amount of money is awarded to a recipient, and that sum is broken down into manageable chunks to be paid over the course of months or years. In the wake of an accident or wrongful death, taking the structured settlement rather than a lump sum can be a good idea at the time.
This serves as a safeguard to make sure you have income, which is why it’s seen as a solution in so many cases where someone’s ability to gain income was harmed. Workers compensation payments, personal injury awards, wrongful death suits, and product liability issues are all legal cases that often end with someone being awarded a structured settlement.
However for some individuals, circumstances change and they need more money sooner than they expected. And that money simply isn’t slated to arrive early enough. This is why many people turn to cashing out their settlement.
Many people with pressing financial needs agree that for them, it is worth it to take a lump sum payment up front even though it could mean collecting less money overall for the life of the settlement.
There are pros and cons to cashing out all or a portion or your settlement payments for a lump sum payment now:
Benefits from Cashing Out
- Have immediate access to your cash
- Gain ability to invest in something
- Get out of a financial crisis
Drawbacks of Cashing Out
- Collect less money overall for the life of the settlement
- Lose an income stream
- Forfeit future payments
Getting a Cash Advance
Once you decide to sell, a company that specializes in buying settlements will help you with filing the necessary paperwork, walk you through the court process, provide you with all the information you need to feel good about your decision.
The terms of a settlement, such as the amount and number of monthly payments, are determined by an insurance company for the purpose of meeting the recipient’s financial needs in the coming years.
However, the payments often fall short of meeting the realities of everyday life, especially when expenses arise that require a large amount of money. In these situations, many recipients of future settlement payments find that selling all or a portion of their settlement payments for a cash payoff is an option that solves their problem.
Sometimes the process of selling doesn’t happen fast enough for people with a serious financial crisis. That’s where a cash advance comes in.
The entire process of selling your structured settlement payments takes 45-60 days. But don’t worry, we understand that can seem like forever in an emergency. That’s why for qualifying cases we can get you a cash advance up to $1,000 in a matter of days.
A cash advance can come in handy to get back on track fast and proactively prevent future issues. Setbacks happen. Part of being financially literate is planning for them and bouncing back when they come.
Why Do People Cash Out Their Structured Settlements?
The question of whether or not to sell often boils down to deciding between selling payment versus other funding options.
Credit lines and loans are plentiful these days, and many people wonder if sacrificing consistent, long-term payments for a one-time, lump sum transaction is a good idea. Working with a financial adviser or other financial expert can help you decide what course of action is in your best interest in both the short term and long term.
One reason people choose to sell their settlement payments over other options is because they don’t want to have to pay the interest rates associated with loans. Others don’t want to take on more debt in the form of credit lines and cards, so they decide instead to pursue the option of selling their structured settlement payments. Each individual has to decide for him or herself whether selling their structured settlement payments is the right decision, but for many people it is.
The process is not an overnight solution. However, it is much faster than having to pay off a loan for the next five years, and in many situations is easier than dealing with the repercussions of incurring more debt. Speaking with a licensed representative regarding individual financial options is the best course of action to pursue.
Americans Have Little to No Savings
If you don’t have a traditional savings account stocked with cash, don’t feel bad — it’s not just you. Half of Americans say they couldn’t pull together $2,000 in 30 days in the event of an emergency, according to a report from the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Most Americans have a set amount they expect to make each month and a set amount of bills they expect to have to pay – and not much else left to work with.
It’s actually gotten more difficult to save money in recent years. These days things cost more than five times more than they did 40 years ago, and wages have not increased to cover the costs. From 1973 to 2015, hourly compensation, or how much Americans make an hour, rose 9.2 percent. However, since then, the price of housing and consumer goods has increased significantly. In 1973 you’d need $18.73 to get $100’s worth of stuff today. Put together, that 9 percent wage increase doesn’t cover the fact that things are now significantly more expensive.
Costly Car Repairs
The most common financial shock Americans face is needing a major car repair.
Not having a car can be devastating to someone’s life. Getting to work, getting to food and getting to health care is suddenly difficult – if not impossible. For better or worse, modern American infrastructure is built for cars. Relying on public transportation is difficult and requires significantly more time and planning.
The average cost for car repairs in the United States is between $1,700 to $3,200 depending on which state you live in. When you consider that the average yearly household income was $51,939 in 2014, that means that fixing a vehicle takes several weeks’ worth of a family’s income to pay for the cost. And unfortunately having a broken down car doesn’t mean you get a pass on normal costs like mortgage payments and electric bills.
Unexpected medical bills
If you find yourself suddenly facing a costly medical procedure or bill, you’re not alone. Twenty-four percent of Americans have experienced a major unexpected medical expense in the past 12 months.
Often, when your health is on the line, no amount is too much. Indeed for every dollar spent in the United States, 17 cents gets spent on healthcare. Even with health insurance, it’s possible to find yourself in a bind.
Sometimes the cost adds to the point of people avoiding medical care. For instance, on a high deductible plan, it’s possible to not be able to cover the deductible to get a necessary surgery. It’s sadly all too common. In 2014, 28 percent of Americans with health insurance avoided an instance of medical care because of how much it cost.
Regardless of your financial situation, it’s important to know that in the United States both public and private hospitals are prohibited from denying care to a patient in an emergency.
Reduced Income, Same Expenses
Sometimes it’s a meeting, or a phone call, or even an email. But in a single moment you go from being employed to unemployed. When you lose income, you don’t magically lose bills. Selling future payments, especially future lump-sum payments, can be a great way to pay the bills while you find another job.
Not paying your debts can impact you significantly. In the short term, missing a payment can mean incurring late fees and an interest rate hike. And the long-term ramifications can be severe, too. A lower credit score can mean you have to pay higher interest rates on mortgage and car loans.
Unemployment is scary, and finding a new job can seem like the light at the end of a dark tunnel. Just be sure you account for a reduction in income, and spend according to your means.
Your Options to Get Money Now
If you have a structured settlement from a car accident, wrongful death, or medical malpractice case, you may need money but not want to sell the whole thing.
Selling your structured settlement payments doesn’t have to mean selling your entire settlement. Many owners opt to sell a portion of their payments, allowing them to get cash for their settlement now while still getting income down the road. A settlement buying specialist will work with you to determine a selling strategy that meets both your reason for selling now, and your financial success in the future.
If all goes to plan, you can get the money you need in as soon as six weeks.
How Much Money Can You Get for Your Settlement?
First you have to understand how the process works: You get a lump sum of money from someone and then that person receives those future payments instead of you. In this way, it works like any other marketplace where one person sells something.
As the demand for purchasing payments goes up, how much you get for your annuity goes up. And vice versa. If more people are interested in purchasing steady income, you’ll get more for your payments.
For instance, if during a rainstorm the only store in town charged an extra few dollars for umbrellas, most people would still pay it because of how much they wanted to stay dry.
Certain market conditions can make your annuity payments more or less appealing.
Most people understand that $1,000 in 1985 got someone a whole lot more than $1,000 in 2015.
The person buying your payments of $1,000 a month starting in 2024 will be able to buy less with that payment than you could today with $1000.
Knowing those to clear principles, it becomes easier to understand the difference between the present value of money — what you can get now with an amount — is very different from the future value of money.
How Much Money Can You Get?
The amount you can get when you cash out your structured settlement is not simply the total amount of all your payments added together. The bottom line in any valuation process of any type of good or commodity is that something is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.
A structured settlement purchasing company considers the market conditions and future value of money to determine how much money they can give you for your payments.
How Do I Cash Out My Structured Settlement?
- Decide: Consider your options and if you feel comfortable selling. Weigh how it will make you feel and how it will impact your financial future.
- Contact: Get in touch with us. We connect you with a representative who will stay with your throughout the selling process.
- Quote: Your representative gives you a quote in minutes and answers any questions you may have.
- Paperwork: Your representative will overnight deliver the necessary paperwork to your home. You fill it out and return it.
- Court: With the paperwork in hand, your representative will help you set up a court date. Here you will explain your reasons for selling to a judge, who has the final say on if the sale goes through.
- Cash: Once the judge accepts it, we transfer the money directly into your account.