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Limitations on Resources for SSI Eligibility

The third in a five-part series: Social Security for Young Blind Adults Series.

This month, the Free Bridges Helpdesk Transition Tip Tuesdays explores the potential impact of Social Security benefits on young blind/low vision adults. In this third installment of the series, we review how Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility imposes limitations on resources.

What do resources have to do with SSI?

As noted in March 2’s Transition Tip, “SSI helps disabled people who have little or no income by providing a monthly cash payment.” so SSI eligibility is not just based on disability. Last week’s Transition Tip explored income limits for SSI. This week, we examine how a person’s resources can impact SSI eligibility.

Whose resources count?

SSI for a child

If the person with a qualifying SSI disability is younger than 18, a portion of the resources of parents and step-parents with whom the lives are usually counted (“deemed”) in determining the child’s eligibility. For specific questions, please reach out to the Free Bridges Transition Helpdesk (contact information below) for more information.

SSI for an adult

One month after an individual turns 18 years old, the individual is considered an adult for SSI purposes, and their parents’ resources are no longer counted. Only resources in the adult’s name that can be controlled by the adult are counted.

Please note: if a parent claims an adult child is a dependent on their taxes, this can negatively impact the adult child’s SSI benefits. It is important to get expert advice based on your personal situation.

Resources

What are resources?

For SSI purposes, resources include things you own our have control of. They include cash, bank accounts, and investments. They also include land and personal property.

SSI payments are meant to help you obtain food and shelter; they are not meant to provide income. For individuals, the resource limit is $2,000. You are not entitled to an SSI payment for any month you are over this resource limit, and you will be required to pay back SSI if you have already received a monthly payment.

Exclusions

General exclusions

  • There is a list of things that are always excluded from resources, including one vehicle, some prepaid burial expenses, and some work-related property (if you are working).
  • Certain kinds of accounts that meet strict guidelines
  • Retroactive SSI payments (back payments owed) for nine months
  • Economic impact payments (EIP), as known as COVID stimulus payments
  • Other less-common exclusions

Spend down

  • In general, if your resources are too great, you will not be eligible for an SSI monthly payment until you “spend down” to the resource limit. (There are some exceptions.)
  • For certain items (like retroactive SSI payments and COVID stimulus payments), you have several months to spend down the funds before they will count as resources
  • There are specific rules about how to “spend down” resources, and it is important to follow these rules.

To find out more, please reach out to the Free Bridges Transition Helpdesk (contact information below) for more information.

Is there a way to save money for expenses and still receive SSI payments?

Yes. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts allow many individuals with disabilities to save money tax free in order to pay for certain expenses. Also, the first $100,000 if funds ABLE accounts do not count as resources for SSI or for several other federal benefit programs.

ABLE accounts can be a great savings vehicle for qualifying disabled people, whether or not they receive SSI. Each week in April, the Free Bridges Helpdesk’s Transition Tip Tuesdays will provide information to help you answer the question: “ABLE Accounts—Are They for Me?”

Next week, we review other benefits available to individuals receiving SSI, “More Than Just Money: Additional Benefits of Getting SSI” in the March 23 Tuesday Transition Tip from the Free Bridges Helpdesk.

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

Social Security for Young Blind Adults Series

Part 1: Disability Eligibility for SSI (March 2)

Part 2: Income Limits for SSI Eligibility (March 9)

Part 3: Limitations on Resources for SSI Eligibility (March 16)

Part 4: More Than Just Money: Additional Benefits of Getting SSI (March 23)

Part 5: How to Apply for SSI and What to Expect (March 30)

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