The Weekly Scenario: Applying for SSI
Question: What assets are not counted as resources when applying for SSI?
Answer: As I have written about in past issues of Weekly Scenario, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that helps people with disabilities and low incomes pay for certain necessities including food, clothing and shelter.
SSI is frequently confused with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is available to individuals with disabilities regardless of how much money they earn or have. By contrast, SSI places very strict limits on a recipient’s income and assets. Moreover, in most states, an SSI beneficiary may also qualify for Medicaid health coverage.
At such time as an SSI applicant shows that she is disabled, she must also prove that she meets the program’s rules for income and assets. To be eligible for SSI (under the asset test), an applicant can have no more than $2,000 in assets ($3,000 for a couple). If the applicant can use or sell property to pay for food or shelter, the asset will probably count as a “resource” against this limit. Resources include any funds held in the applicant’s bank accounts, retirement accounts, or in cash. The $2,000 resource limit will not simply vanish after the individual qualifies for SSI.
So what are the exclusions that would not count toward the $2,000 resource limit?
The big one is the SSI claimant’s home (the principal place of residence). Others include:
• One automobile (no limit)
• Household goods (furniture, etc.) (no limit)
• Personal effects (jewelry, artwork, etc.) (essentially no limit)
• Up to $100,000 in an ABLE account
• Assets in a special needs trust, no limit on the amount
Comment: There are some others (including about 44 in total).
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