A key part of the transition process is knowing about financial benefits for which blind and low vision students are eligible. Join us for Financial February for a crash course on SSI benefits.
- February 1: What is SSI, and Who is Eligible for It?
- February 8: What are the Income Requirements for SSI?
- February 15: How do Resources Affect SSI?
- February 22: How Can I Apply for SSI?
In this third installment of our “Financial February” Series, we define resources, describe which resources count in determining SSI eligibility, and explain how to save money despite the very low SSI resource limit.
What are Resources?
For SSI purposes, resources include things you own or 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 this reason, SSI has strict resource limits.
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.
Just as with income limitations, resource limits are applied differently for child applicants than they are for adult applicants (see last week’s blog post What are the Income Requirements for SSI?).
Just like with income, there are certain resources that SSA will exclude when determining your eligibility for SSI. These include:
- Specific resources listed in section 1613 of the Social Security Act, 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), also known as COVID stimulus payments (must be spent within twelve months)
- Other less-common exclusions
NOTE: 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.
Is There a Way to Save Money and Still Receive SSI Benefits?
You may be thinking that the $2,000 resource limit seems quite low, and you would be right. How are students supposed to save for their future if being an SSI beneficiary requires that they do not save over $2,000?
In 2014, the U.S. Congress passed a law creating Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts. ABLE accounts provide many individuals with disabilities a tax-free way to save money to pay for many disability-related expenses. Also, the first $100,000 of funds in ABLE accounts do not count as resources for SSI. ABLE accounts can be a great savings vehicle for qualifying disabled people, whether or not they receive SSI. To learn more, contact the Free Bridges Helpdesk to learn about the independence and financial preparedness that having an ABLE account can provide.
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:
- Our Accessible web form
- Email: Helpdesk@imagemd.org
- Text: Send to: (410) 305-9199
- Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page or Facebook Messenger
- Voice mail: Call (443) 320-4003, leave a voice mail message, and we will return your call
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.