How does it work?
When a structured settlement holder calls, an agent and team will review the settlement, circumstances and reasons the applicant needs the cash. If they decide to move forward, they offer the payee an upfront sum to surrender the stream of payments, along with a discount rate.
This discount rate, which is typically between 6 percent and 29 percent, is comparable to the interest you would pay on a loan, says Grover Christopher Collins, managing partner at the Collins Law Firm in Nashville, Tennessee. As such, the lower the discount rate, the better the deal.
"You can negotiate," Collins says. "It's not a take-it-or-leave-it proposition; and you can also shop around."
Once you do accept an offer, however, the company will file a petition for transfer of the structured settlement in court in the state the company is in.
"The judge is the final arbitrator of whether it gets approved or not," Collins says. Rulings are made based on, among other things, what the person needs the money for, what the discount rate is and the structured settlement company's reputation.
Exact processes will vary depending on jurisdiction, but from the time a payee calls to the time they receive money can be as little as 62 days or as long as 90 days, Collins says.
David Lewis, senior vice president and general counsel with Stone Street Capital LLC, says few people sell their entire transactions at once. Payees usually sell a portion of their payments, just enough to meet their financial needs, and offers from companies are detailed in disclosure statements with discount rates and all the information they need to make an informed decision. Lewis says other factors that go into determining the payment amount include: in which state the payee resides, the payments they want to sell and the size of the payments.