Many Americans who are unable to work due to a disability face an almost daily struggle to make ends meet. Other disability applicants are a little better off because they may have some assets to fall back on, like savings accounts, investments, or property. If you are unable to work due to a physical or mental impairment you may wonder if possessing assets will hurt your chances of being granted Social Security disability benefits.
Can you have assets and receive disability payments? That depends on which disability program you may qualify for. There are two disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (which is known as SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (commonly referred to as SSI).
SSDI pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are disabled and you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes recently enough. SSI, on the other hand, is based on financial need. The Social Security Administration says, “It is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income.” (For more on this subject read our blog post “What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?”)
Many clients think that assets will affect their SSDI, when in truth, almost no assets affect SSDI. Qualifying for SSDI is based on your inability to work and your benefits payment is based on your lifetime average earnings before you became disabled. SSDI payments are not affected by having a house, a car, money in the bank, or owning other possessions.
On the other hand, many SSI clients are surprised to learn that assets do affect their benefits. Social Security will take into consideration the amount of your assets, because it is a needs-based program. To be eligible for SSI, your assets must be less than $2,000 for an individual and less than $3,000 for a married couple. However, not all assets count towards the resource limits. The Social Security Administration lists 44 resource exclusions. The major exclusions include:
- The house you live in*
- The vehicle you drive*
- Household goods (furniture, etc.)
- Personal effects (jewelry, art work, etc.) as long as the SSI claimant is actually using the items.
- Up to $100,000 in an ABLE account
- Assets in a special needs trust
* It is important to note that land you don’t live on and multiple cars are not excludable. They do count towards your asset limit.
In addition to asset limitations, there are earned income and unearned income limits that you may not exceed. If you exceed the asset or income limits, Social Security may reduce or even potentially terminate your benefits.
The requirements for SSDI and SSI are complicated and Social Security has an application with many questions to determine your eligibility. If you are considering applying for Social Security disability benefits or if you applied and were turned down for benefits, it is only natural that you will have many questions. Let the experienced disability attorneys at Cuddigan Law help you navigate the complicated and oftentimes confusing path to winning Social Security disability benefits. Call or email us today for a free evaluation of your case.