The Settlement Alliance

Structured Settlement Broker vs. Settlement Planner: What’s the Difference?

Structured Settlement Broker vs. Settlement Planner: What’s the Difference?

May 17, 2017

In the legal industry, it’s not uncommon to hear the word “broker” used to describe any number of individuals who assist in determining how to handle the settlement recovery. There are key differences between a broker and a settlement planner, though, and for a claimant, choosing to work with one or the other could have long-term implications.

What is a Structured Settlement Broker?

A structured settlement broker arranges a structured settlement annuity for an injured claimant. Settlement funds from the defendant are “assigned” to a third-party assignment company, which then purchases the structured settlement annuity. The structured settlement provides periodic payments to the claimant, based on a previously determined schedule. Neither the claimant nor the claimant’s attorney can have constructive receipt of any funds being placed in the structured settlement, and the decision to structure must be made prior to finalizing the settlement agreement.

Sounds pretty cut and dry, right? Here’s the kicker—sometimes the structured settlement broker is an individual brought in by the defendant. In that case, the structure broker has a fiduciary responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the defendant, not the claimant. If the claimant’s attorney brings in their own structured settlement broker, however, then there is a much better shot at getting the claimant the best structured settlement plan possible. But is that enough?

Taking a More Comprehensive Approach to Settlement

A settlement planner is not only able to act as a structured settlement broker, but will also look at the claimant’s overall needs and goals to design a comprehensive settlement plan. Instead of immediately recommending a structured settlement, which may or may not be the best fit for the individual claimant, a settlement planner looks at a variety of factors, including:

The settlement planner may recommend a combination of strategies, such as a special needs trust combined with a structured settlement, rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all approach to settlement. More importantly, a settlement planner will take the time to educate the claimant on all of their available options, so that the claimant can make well-informed decisions.

When Should the Plaintiff Attorney Bring in a Settlement Planner?

The best time to bring in a settlement planner is as early in the case as possible. A longer timeframe offers the opportunity to identify the best settlement options, provide assistance during mediation, and handle any unforeseen issues that may arise.

Contact the Settlement Planning Experts

Our experienced team has helped thousands of claimants design settlement plans to meet their needs. Contact us before your next case settles at 800-464-2500 or

We are proud to partner with the highest rated structured settlement providers in the industry:

  • American general Life Companies
  • Berkshire Hathaway Structured Settlements
  • MetLife
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • New York Life
  • Pacific Life
  • Prudential