Financial Eligibility Guidance

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Disability benefits can provide a valuable lifeline when you are unable to work due to an illness, injury, or debilitating condition. However, some programs set strict guidelines that limit your eligibility based on income, assets, or other financial issues. Other programs may limit benefits based on your financial situation.

At Burgess & Christensen, we can help you determine what you are eligible to receive and help you implement strategies to help you qualify for benefits. We focus our practice on disability law, so that enables us to keep up-to-date on changes in laws or policies that could affect your eligibility and the amounts you can receive. We are dedicated to helping you succeed.

Strategies to Establish Eligibility

Many people look at the income limits and asset thresholds and assume there’s nothing they can do if they don’t meet the benchmarks. However, there are ways to structure assets and income to preserve the value of resources without sacrificing eligibility.

For instance, it might make sense to establish an ABLE account. This type of account allows a disabled individual to hold assets that are not counted against them toward eligibility for benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. However, your disability must have started before age 26 for you to become eligible to open this type of account.

Another strategy to reduce assets that count against you toward eligibility is to change “countable” assets into assets that do not count. For instance, if you have two vehicles, such as a car and a pickup truck, you are allowed to exclude one, but the other will count against your eligibility. You could sell both vehicles and invest in a newer, more reliable vehicle, and the value of that vehicle will not count toward your asset limit. You might also invest cash, which is countable, into improvement in your home, which is not countable.

For some people, it makes sense to establish a special needs trust so that any assets or income are not counted against them toward eligibility for SSI and Medicaid.The team at Burgess & Christensen can help you develop a qualification strategy that makes the most sense based on your particular situation.

Resource and Income Limits for SSI

To receive SSI disability benefits, you must not have more than $2,000 in “countable” assets if you are single, and no more than $3,000 if you are married. Assets that do not count toward this limit include:

  • Your home and the land it is on
  • One vehicle (regardless of value) if you or someone in your home use it for transportation
  • Furniture and household goods that you use
  • Jewelry and clothes that you wear
  • Burial spaces
  • Burial funds and life insurance policies worth less than $1,500
  • Funds in an ABLE account or Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)
  • Funds in a special needs trust

In addition to proving that you do not have assets in excess of the resource limit, you must prove that if you work, your income does not exceed $1,550 each month. If you earn or receive income that is less, some of that income will reduce the amount of SSI benefits you can receive.

Burgess & Christensen can help you gather and prepare evidence to demonstrate your qualifications. With many benefit programs, it is not enough to know you qualify—you must be prepared to show you qualify, and this can be challenging. However, because we work with disability programs as the focus of our practice, we understand how to present evidence persuasively to demonstrate why our clients should be receiving benefits.

Burgess & Christensen Provides Guidance and Assistance to Get the Benefits You Deserve

At Burgess & Christensen, we are committed to helping clients through every step in the process of applying for disability benefits. This includes assessing eligibility and demonstrating eligibility based on financial qualifications. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you do not owe any legal fees until you are approved for benefits. The earlier you begin working with us, the easier it is for our team to help you prove your eligibility.

For a free evaluation or to learn more about the process, contact Burgess and Christensen today.

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    When you are unable to work, you still need to support yourself and your family. Call us at 770-422-8111 or contact us online. We do not charge any fees until the disability claim is approved and our fees are authorized.