Are there any situation when debt settlement is beneficial?
Yes, debt settlement can help you to clear your debts when you're not able to repay them. It can help you solve your debt problems fast. However, you'll have to pay a tax on the forgiven debt amount since it's considered to be the creditor's loss and the debtor's gain.
Debt settlement can be beneficial when you want to avoid bankruptcy. Bankruptcy will follow you for the rest of your life. Because its effect will stay on your credit report for about 10 years and many loan, credit card, job applications ask whether or not you have filed bankruptcy ever.
Beneficial? You have to pay tax on the total amount saved. Period. At the end of the day, it's your income and you have to pay tax on it. You can only avoid paying the tax only when you're insolvent.