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SOCIAL SECURITY & DISABILITY OVERVIEW

Home » Disability Claims » What Counts As Income and Resources for Supplemental Security Income?

What Counts As Income and Resources for
Supplemental Security Income?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is designed to provide a basic income for low-income disabled people who have never been able to work or who have not worked long enough to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSI recipients can only have a maximum amount of savings and possessions (what the Social Security Administration calls “countable income and resources”) to qualify.

After reading the information below, you may still be confused about how to determine your countable income and resources. If you are, you are not alone. Many people find this aspect of the Supplemental Security Income program confusing. The Social Security Department at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin understands the intricacies of Social Security law, and we are here to try to help you receive the benefits to which you may be legally entitled.

What Is Countable Income for SSI?

In general, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers countable income to be items that you receive during a calendar month that can be used as, or to obtain, food or shelter. This includes amounts earned through labor or investments, as well as types of free rent or food benefits from a non-governmental source. The SSA website includes the following items as exclusions to countable income:

Principal unearned income exclusions:

  • The first $20 per month
  • Income set aside or being used to pursue a plan for achieving self-support by a disabled or blind individual
  • State or local assistance based on need that is wholly funded by the state or local area in the state
  • Rent subsidies under HUD programs and the value of supplemental nutrition assistance (formerly referred to as food stamps)
  • The first $60 of infrequent or irregularly received income in a quarter

Principal earned income exclusions:

  • The first $65 per month and any unused portion of the $20 unearned income exclusion, plus one-half of the remainder
  • Impairment-related work expenses of the disabled and work expenses of the blind
  • Income set aside or being used to pursue a plan for achieving self-support by a disabled or blind individual
  • The first $30 of infrequent or irregularly received income in a quarter

For an extensive list of income exclusions, review section V.B of the SSI Annual Report.

Countable incomes matters because it determines SSI eligibility and computes monthly SSI payments.

What Are Countable Resources for SSI?

Countable resources are any items of value that a person owns such as:

  • Cash
  • Bank account(s), stocks, U.S. savings bonds
  • Land
  • Life insurance
  • Personal property
  • Vehicle(s)
  • Anything else you own that could be changed to cash and used for food or shelter
  • Deemed resources

What is the Resource Limit for SSI?Countable resources limit for SSI is $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for a couple.

To obtain Supplemental Security Income, the limit of countable resources for an adult or child is $2,000 and $3,000 for a couple.

What Are Deemed Resources?

Deemed resources are resources of an SSI applicant’s spouse, parent, or sponsor (in the case of a minor child) that are considered to “belong” to the person applying for SSI. Deemed resources are countable in the determination of SSI benefits.

However, if a child is under the age of 18 and:

  • lives with one parent, $2,000 of the parent’s total countable resources can be excluded from the deemed resources of the parent
  • lives with two parents, $3,000 of the parents’ combined countable resources can be excluded from the deemed resources of the parents

Any amount over these limits may count as part of the child’s $2,000 resource limit.

What Resources Do Not Count for Supplemental Security Income?

The following items are listed on the SSA website as resources that are NOT counted as resources under Supplemental Security Income:

  • The house a person lives in and the land it is on
  • Household goods and personal effects (such as wedding and engagement rings)
  • Burial spaces for the applicant and his/her immediate family
  • Burial funds for a person and his/her spouse valued at $1,500 or less
  • Life insurance policies with a combined face value of $1,500 or less
  • One vehicle, regardless of value, if it is used for transportation for the applicant or a household member
  • Retroactive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security benefits for up to nine months after receipt (including payments received in installments)
  • Grants, scholarships, fellowships, or gifts set aside to pay educational expenses for nine months after receipt
  • Medicaid benefits

Other, more specialized resources that also do NOT count include:

  • Property essential to self–support, such as property used in a trade or business (farm, beauty parlor), tools, uniforms, safety equipment, etc.
  • Resources that a blind or disabled person needs for an approved Plan for Achieving Self–Support (PASS)
  • Support and maintenance assistance and home energy assistance that the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not count as income
  • Cash received for medical or social services that the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not count as income is not a resource for one month (however, cash reimbursement of expenses already paid for by the person is counted under the regular income and resources rules)
  • State or local relocation assistance payments are not counted for nine months
  • Crime victim’s assistance is not counted for nine months
  • Earned income tax credit payments are not counted for nine months
  • Dedicated accounts for disabled or blind children
  • Disaster relief assistance which the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not count as income
  • Cash received for the purpose of replacing an excluded resource (e.g. a house) that is lost, damaged, or stolen
  • Child tax credit payments are not counted for nine months
  • Some trusts

Selling Resources

People may be able to sell real estate property or other resources that put them over the limit for SSI eligibility. People can still receive SSI benefits while trying to sell these assets; however, when the sale is complete, they must pay back the SSI benefits they received during the sales period. These are called “conditional benefits.”

Conditional benefits: received SSI benefits must be paid back if earned while selling assets.

Note: It is illegal for a person, his/her spouse, or a co-owner to sell or give away a resource for less than it’s worth in order to get SSI benefits. In such a case, a person will be ineligible for SSI benefits for up to 36 months. How long a person is ineligible depends on the actual value of the resource.

Contact the Disability Attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, our dedicated Social Security Disability lawyers fight hard every day for our clients’ rights and help them navigate through this difficult process. We understand Disability law and how to calculate countable income and resources. And we are here to help you.

Attorney Rick Fleming, who heads the Disability department at the Law Offices of James ScottRick Fleming is a Social Security Disability attorney at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin Farrin, is a NC State Bar Board Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability Law. NC State Bar Board Certified Specialists are recognized by the North Carolina State Bar as having extensive knowledge and proficiency in Social Security Disability Law. Rick is also bilingual, with fluency in both English and Spanish. Rick and his team are committed to helping our clients with disabilities fight for the benefits they may deserve.

Several of our paralegals in the Social Security Department worked as Disability Determination Services examiners for the Social Security Administration. Some of them were certified as “Level II” examiners, meaning they also were involved in reconsiderations and conducting continuing Disability reviews.

Don’t hesitate to call our firm today for a free case evaluation. Call 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online.

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Disability cases can become very complex very quickly. Don’t leave your future to chance. There’s too much at risk. Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin and tell them you mean business.