How Do My Assets Affect Supplemental Security Income Benefits?

March 6, 2019
Dayes Law Firm

Some people with disabilities do not have enough of a work history to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. However, they may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is for people with disabilities who have a limited amount of assets.

Below, our trusted Social Security Disability attorneys in Phoenix answer some common questions about assets as it relates to SSI benefits. If you have more questions about applying for SSI benefits and want to know how we can assist you throughout every stage of the process, contact us for a free legal consultation.

What Are the Asset Limits for SSI Benefits?

SSI is a needs-based program for disabled individuals who have low income and assets and do not have a sufficient work history to qualify for SSDI benefits. To be eligible for these benefits, applicants cannot have assets worth more than a certain amount of money.

Currently, a single applicant cannot have more than $2,000 in assets. If the applicant is married, the couple cannot have more than $3,000 in assets. If the applicant is a child and lives with one parent, the asset limit for the parent is $2,000. If the applicant lives with both parents, the asset limit for both parents is $3,000.

What Counts as an Asset?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has specific definitions regarding what it counts toward the $2,000 or $3,000 asset limit. Some assets that count toward this limit include the following:

  • Cash
  • Funds in a checking, savings or other financial account
  • Life insurance policy worth more than $1,500
  • Stocks, bonds and other investments
  • Motor vehicles beyond the first one
  • Household goods and personal effects more than $2,000 in value
  • Real estate other than the home where you live, including plots of land
  • Other property that you could change to cash and use for food or shelter

Deemed resources also count toward the asset limit. Deemed resources are assets that belong to another person that are also considered by the SSA to be assets of the applicant. For example, if a child is the applicant, his or her parents’ assets are deemed to be those of the child.

What Does Not Count as an Asset?

The SSA does not count all assets toward the asset limit, such as:

  • Your home – The home where you live, the land it is on and adjacent buildings are excluded from your assets.
  • Your vehicle – One vehicle is excluded from the asset limit if you need it for transportation for yourself or another member of your household. Otherwise, $4,500 of the value of the vehicle is excluded. Anything over this amount is counted as an asset.
  • Certain financial accounts – The SSA excludes up to $100,000 in an ABLE account that is established for a person who was disabled before reaching the age of 26. It also excludes PASS savings, which are used to create a plan for achieving self-support. Additionally, the SSA excludes money saved in an individual development account that helps recipients of funds from the Temporary Aid for Needy Families save for education, a home purchase or to start a business.
  • Burial savings – Claimants can have burial funds up to $1,500 in value, in addition to burial plots for them and their immediate family.
  • Life insurance policies – Life insurance policies with a cash value up to $1,500 are not included in the resource limit.
  • Educational gifts – Grants, scholarships and gifts to pay for education are also excluded for nine months after receiving them.
  • Retroactive benefits – Retroactive SSI or Social Security benefits for up to nine months after you receive them are also excluded.
  • Wedding rings – A wedding ring and engagement ring are also excluded from the resource limit.

There are several other exceptions, so it is important to talk to an experienced SSI lawyer to learn if you may qualify for SSI benefits. Your lawyer can also explain how you must report changes in your resources while you are receiving benefits.

Contact a Knowledgeable Lawyer to Discuss Your Options

The rules regarding SSI and assets can be confusing. Going over the asset limit can prevent you from being eligible for SSI benefits, even if you are disabled. Working with a knowledgeable SSI attorney with the Dayes Law Firm can provide many benefits throughout every stage of the process of applying for benefits.

We charge no upfront fees and work on a contingency fee basis, so you do not pay us for our services unless your claim is approved. There is no risk to contact us to learn more about the asset guidelines and whether you might be eligible for SSI benefits.

Complete our Free Case Review form to start the process.