by John Darer CLU ChFC MSSC CeFT RSP CLTC
Travelers to the United States who suffer serious personal injuries on their travels are not precluded from the benefits of structured settlements. Nor are foreign nationals who are parties to lawsuits with jurisdiction in Federal or state courts the United States
- The spouse and children of a successful businesswoman who was killed or rendered paraplegic as the result of an accident while in the U.S.
- The undocumented alien you represent who was seriously injured on a construction site,
- The 6 year old who got his fingers caught in the revolving door at a hotel on a family vacation to the United States
- The child of a deceased US green card holder who is not a US citizen, but has a derivative claim.
It is possible for foreign nationals to obtain the same structured settlement payment types as someone who is a US citizen. Some structured settlement annuity issuers will not write lifetime payments on foreign nationals, due to difficulties in verifying mortality, while others require periodic proof of living, typically annually. This may sound a bit weird, but consider the risk to the insurance company with an obligation to make payments only as long as a person is alive when the annuitant lives in an area where verification of such information from public records is difficult. Compare this to the facility of being able to determine mortality of annuitants in the United States via the so called " Social Security Death Master Records"
As part of case preparation prior to a settlement conference, plaintiff lawyers should have their foreign national clients complete and submit an IRS Form W-7. The IRS form W-7 is used to establish a taxpayer identification number for individuals who are required for U.S. tax purposes to have a U.S. taxpayer ID, but who do not have and are not eligible to get a social security number (SSN). The ITIN is for federal tax purposes only. It does not entitle you to social security benefits and does not change a person's immigration status or your right to work in the United States. It could take 6-8 weeks to obtain an ITIN, so don't wait until the case is settled.
At least one of the life insurance companies issuing structured settlement annuities will mail checks directly to foreign nationals in their country of residence.