assetsLike many legal situations whether owning assets will affect your eligibility for disability benefits is: “it depends”. In this case how owning assets affects qualification for disability benefits depends on which disability program you may be eligible 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.”

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 are:

  • Your home
  • One automobile
  • 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

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.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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