Structured settlements are linked to annuities because they’re considered an effective way to deliver money to people who need it but also need the discipline of a monthly or yearly payout. Congress in 1982 passed the Periodic Payment Settlement Tax Act, which established structured settlements to provide long-term financial security to accident victims and their families.
The idea was to replace lump-sum payments awarded to personal injury claimants with periodic payments. The government’s aim was to decrease the number of personal injury award recipients who went through their funds too quickly and were subsequently forced to rely on public assistance. In addition to personal-injury claimants, Structured Settlements are frequently set up for those who win big liability and damage judgments, for lottery winners and for lawyers and law firms who are owed large sums in fees.
Because annuities can be designed to offer timed payouts, guarantees on principal, as well as investment gains, and were already being offered by insurance companies, they quickly became the preferred vehicle to implement structured settlements. To encourage their use, the new law made any interest or capital gains earned on the annuity within a structured settlement tax free.