Let’s start by understanding that there are two types of Social Security Benefits:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides eligible individuals who are disabled, have worked in the past for a certain amount of years and have made enough contributions to the Social Security trust fund, earning enough work credits to qualify, either through their employment or a family member, such a spouse or parent.
Since you must have worked and contributed to the trust fund in order to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI,) as long as you have contributed enough, there is no limit to the amount of cash, property, assets or resources you may own.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides older individuals and people with disabilities regardless of age, including children who have limited income and resources, the minimum basic financial assistance.
In this case, the rules are entirely different, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) will account for assets owned by the applicant, referred to as resources.
Which Assets will the SSA take into consideration?
The SSA will count as resources your:
- Bank accounts, stocks, U.S. savings bonds;
- Life insurance;
- Personal property;
- Anything else you own which could be liquidated to cash and used for food or shelter; and
- Deemed resources – a portion of the resources of a spouse, parent, parent’s spouse, sponsor of an alien or sponsor’s spouse as belonging to the person who applies for SSI.
Resources that the SSA DO NOT count:
- The home you live in and the land it is on;
- Household goods and personal effects (e.g., your wedding and engagement rings);
- Burial spaces for you or your immediate family;
- Burial funds for you and your spouse, each valued at $1,500 or less;
- Life insurance policies with a combined face value of $1,500 or less;
- One vehicle, regardless of value, if it is used for transportation for you or a member of your household;
- Retroactive SSI or Social Security benefits for up to nine months after you receive them;
- Grants, scholarships, fellowships, or gifts set aside to pay educational expenses for 9 months after receipt;
- Up to $100,000 of funds in an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account established through a State ABLE program.
In other words, the SAA will not count the essential assets needed to survive. A primary home residence, Florida’s equity limit is $585,000 and one vehicle, as your primary form of transportation. Monies saved for future pre-planning such as life insurance, burial savings, etc. Also, household items and personal effects such as furniture, art work, jewelry, etc.
Other resources that the SSA DO NOT count:
- Property essential to self–support (see the SSI Spotlight on Property You Need for Self–Support);
- Resources that a blind or disabled person needs for an approved plan for achieving self-support (PASS) (see the SSI Spotlight on Plans to Achieve Self–Support);
- Money saved in an Individual Development Account (IDA) (See the SSI Spotlight on Individual Development Accounts);
- Support and maintenance assistance and home energy assistance that we do not count as income;
- Cash received for medical or social services that we do not count as income is not a resource for 1 month;
- Health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs);
- State or local relocation assistance payments are not counted for 12 months;
- Crime victim’s assistance is not counted for 9 months;
- Earned income tax credit payments are not counted for 9 months;
- Dedicated accounts for disabled or blind children (see Deeming Eligibility Chart for Children);
- Disaster relief assistance which we do not count as income;
- Cash received for the purpose of replacing an excluded resource (for example, a house) that is lost, damaged, or stolen is not counter for 9 months;
- All Federal tax refunds and advanced tax credits received on or after January 1, 2010 are not counted for 12 months;
- The first $2,000 of compensation received per calendar year for participating in certain clinical trials; and
- Some trusts (See the SSI Spotlight on Trusts).
It can be confusing to distinguish the differences between both benefits programs, as well as the qualifying rules for income and assets. At Seff & Capizzi Law Group, we regularly assist clients with their SSD cases and provide valuable information to those looking into applying for disability benefits, or are interested in filing appeals from their initial denial. If you are looking to file your initial SSD case claim, you can download our guide here and file your application online here.
Do not hesitate to call us at (954) 920-9220. We have over 40 years of experience and offer a free consultation. We do not charge an up-front fee for social security legal representation. Click here for more information about social security disability and how Seff & Capizzi can help.