How are my assets calculated when I apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Supplemental Security Income, also known as SSI, is a needs-based program that is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). When applying for SSI, you must meet certain income and asset restrictions in order to qualify. If you are wondering whether or not you might qualify for the SSA’s Supplemental Security Income program and how the SSA calculates your assets, the following questions and answers may be of some assistance.

What Does the SSA Consider as Resources or Assets?

When determining what your assets or resources are, the SSA will review things such as how much cash you have, bank accounts, savings accounts, land, life insurance, personal property, vehicles and pretty much anything else that you own that you could sell and use to pay for housing and food for your family.

Am I Not Allowed to Own a Car When I Receive SSI?

You are indeed allowed to own a vehicle when you are receiving SSI. You may own one vehicle, regardless of its value. It is possible to own a second vehicle when collecting SSI benefits as long as the amount of equity that you have in that vehicle falls within the asset restrictions that have been set forth by the SSA.

What Items Does the SSA Not Consider as Resources?

When you apply for SSI disability benefits the home that you live in and the land that home is on is not considered in your resource pool. Certain personal effects are also not counted as resources, such as your wedding ring or engagement ring. Burial spaces, burial funds (up to $1,500 per person) and life insurance policies with a combined value of $1,500 or less are also not considered as resources when applying for SSI benefits from the SSA.

In addition to the above, scholarships or gifts that have been set aside to pay for educational expenses cannot be counted towards your resources for nine months after the receipt of said gifts, grants or scholarships.

In many cases, assistance received from other agencies is not counted towards your resource limit. The forms of assistance that may not count towards your resource limit include energy assistance, SNAP (formerly food stamps), cash received for medical or social services that do not count as income (for a period of one month). If you have any questions whether or not a specific resource can be counted towards your resource limit, it is best to ask an SSA representative or consult with a qualified social Security Disability attorney.

What are the Resource Limits?

In order to qualify for SSI benefits, you cannot have more than $2,000 in resources for an individual or $3,000 in resources for a family. If the resources you own exceed these limits, you will not qualify for SSI payments, but may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments if you have earned enough work credits during the period that you worked.

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