New associations launch to fill a void in their sector. Here, the American Association of Settlement Consultants tell us why they started, what they’ve been up to, and what they want to do next.
Starting point. The American Association of Settlement Consultants (AASC) focuses on people who work in the settlement field, with many members specializing in structured settlements. Those are a type of injury settlement where, rather than getting a lump sum, the settlement is paid out over multiple years.
“Settlement planning is very gray,” said AASC President Rebekah Reedy-Miller. “There’s no black-and-white answer, so every client is different. There was a huge void and a huge need in our industry for education, for mentorship, and for a comprehensive perspective of, ‘This is how you take someone’s case, and this is how you work it up.’” AASC formed last year to provide education and community for members, as well as modernize the industry so it meets today’s needs.
Early work. Since the group began, they’ve been promoting education and creating a legislative agenda. The group has two legislative focuses. First, AASC practitioners have noticed that people who take lump sums don’t have enough money left after a few years to pay their continuing medical bills, but they don’t have hard data on that.
“One of our legislative priorities will be getting a government-funded study on dissipation rates,” Executive Director Jennifer H. Wieroniey said, referring to the rate at which people spend their money from lump sum settlements. “Most people who do not structure their settlements have nothing left after just five years, so we need more information on what we’re up against.”
The second priority is to get more categories of settlements afforded the benefit of being tax-free. While many settlements for physical injuries are tax-free, AASC would also like to see rape and sexual assault settlements receive the same status and will be pushing for that change.
Next steps. While the organization will continue to focus on its legislative goals, it is also hoping to bring people together for education and mentorship during its first annual meeting, which is currently scheduled for February 2022.