Limited Income and Financial Resources for SSI Eligibility

Understanding the criteria for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility can be a formidable task, particularly regarding income and financial resources. Anjel Burgess, a managing attorney at Burgess & Christensen, specializes in guiding adults and children across the country through the intricacies of receiving Social Security disability benefits, including SSI. This blog will delve into what limited income and financial resources mean for SSI eligibility and how you can navigate these requirements.

Defining Income and Resources for SSI

The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines SSI eligibility based on income and financial resources. Here’s a closer look at what these terms entail:

  • Income: This encompasses money you earn from employment, benefits received from other sources such as the Veterans Administration or workers’ compensation, child support, unemployment benefits, and even support from family and friends. The SSA considers all these as income, which can affect your SSI eligibility.
  • Resources: Assets such as vehicles, cash, stocks and bonds, life insurance, and land are counted as resources. The SSA evaluates these to determine if you meet the financial criteria for SSI.

Income and Resource Limits

To qualify for SSI, individuals must fall below certain income and resource thresholds:

  • Single applicants: Your income and resources must not exceed $2,000.
  • Married applicants: Combined income and resources should not exceed $3,000.

Exemptions to Consider

When applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), understanding which assets are exempt can significantly impact your eligibility. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not count specific resources towards the program’s strict asset limits. Here’s an expanded view of what those exemptions include and additional considerations:

  • One Vehicle: The exemption applies to one vehicle per household, which you or your family use for transportation, irrespective of its market value. This includes cars for medical appointments, grocery shopping, or work.
  • Primary Residence: The exemption for a primary residence extends to the house you live in and the land on which it sits. This also includes any adjoining land and buildings that are an integral part of your home.
  • Certain Trusts: Trusts designed not to provide support for food or shelter, and those with specific restrictions that prevent them from being counted as resources, such as Special Needs Trusts, may be exempt. The rules governing trusts are complex, and the specifics of the trust agreement are crucial in determining whether the trust is countable as a resource.

Additional Exemptions:

  • Personal Belongings: Personal effects such as clothing, furniture, and other household goods are generally exempt from being considered as resources.
  • Burial Spaces: Burial plots for you and immediate family members are exempt. This can include plots for a spouse, children, and, in some cases, siblings.
  • Burial Funds: Up to $1,500 for your burial expenses is exempt, provided it’s designated for this purpose and not commingled with other assets.
  • Life Insurance Policies: Life insurance policies with a face value of $1,500 or less per person are not counted as resources. Policies exceeding this value are assessed differently.
  • Property Essential to Self-Support: Tools, equipment, or property you use in a trade or business, or personal property you use for work as an employee, are not counted as resources.
  • Retroactive SSI or Social Security Benefits: Any retroactive SSI or Social Security benefits you receive are exempt from resources for nine months after receiving them.

Managing Excess Resources

If your assets exceed these limits, you might need to adjust your resources to become eligible for SSI. Selling excess resources at fair market value is one way to meet eligibility criteria. However, disposing of resources below their fair market value could lead to penalties, including a potential 36-month period of ineligibility for SSI.

Critical Takeaways for SSI Applicants

  • Understand What Counts: Familiarize yourself with what the SSA considers as income and resources to assess your eligibility accurately.
  • Examine Exemptions: Leverage exemptions to your advantage by understanding which assets are not counted as resources.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: Navigating SSI eligibility criteria can be complex. Professional advice can be invaluable if you need help determining your eligibility or adjusting your resources.

At Burgess & Christensen, we’re committed to helping individuals understand and navigate the requirements for SSI eligibility. Our team is here to offer support and legal guidance tailored to your unique situation.

Find Out How Burgess & Christensen Can Help You

If you or someone you know is seeking assistance with SSI eligibility or has questions about managing income and financial resources for SSI, contact our office for a free consultation. Our experience in Social Security disability benefits can provide the clarity and direction you need to navigate the process successfully.

Call us today at 770-422-8111 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and discover how we can assist you in achieving the best possible outcome for your SSI application.