Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program for people with low income and low assets. In this article, we discuss the limits specific to assets in order to qualify for monthly SSI benefits.
The terms “assets” and “countable resources” are used interchangeably when discussing this category of qualifications. Assets and resources are things you own that can be turned into cash, and they may count toward SSI’s resource limit. Although many items can be considered assets, some of the most common are stocks, bonds, bank accounts, and property.
To qualify for SSI benefits, among other criteria, your countable resources must not exceed a value of $2,000 if you are an individual and $3,000 if you are a couple. This restriction on assets is called the SSI resource limit. Just because you have assets, however, does not mean that the Social Security Administration will count them all toward the resource limit.
As a result, it is extremely important to know which assets SSA will or will not consider countable resources since this piece of information is vital to determining your eligibility for SSI benefits. Although the below lists are not comprehensive, they will give you an idea of some of the assets that SSA considers.
Here are some assets that SSA will not count toward your resource limit for purposes of qualifying for SSI benefits: the house you live in; one car, if you or someone in your household uses it for transportation; burial plots or spaces for you or someone in your immediate family; burial funds of up to $1,500 each for you and your spouse; property that you or your spouse use in trade or business (or on your job if you work for someone else); life insurance policies that you own with a combined face value of $1,500 or less; up to $100,000 worth of funds in an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account established through a state ABLE program; and household goods and personal effects. Please note: a wedding and/or engagement ring of any value will always be excluded.
Alternatively, here are some assets that SSA will count toward your resource limit for purposes of qualifying for SSI benefits: cash; motor vehicles (except for one car); real estate (other than the house you live in); life insurance policies with a cash value of over $1,500; stocks and bonds; and money in checking and savings accounts.
SSA evaluates resources on the last day of every month; therefore, if you go over the resource limit at any other time of the month, it will not impact your eligibility for SSI benefits. But you cannot get SSI benefits for any month that, as of the last day of the month, your assets exceed the $2,000 or $3,000 resource limit.
If you are denied SSI benefits one month, you are allowed to sell resources in order to qualify for benefits the following month, but you must sell the excess resources for what they are worth. If SSA determines that you, your spouse, or a co-owner of an asset has given a countable resource away for less than it is worth, you may continue to be ineligible for SSI benefits for up to thirty-six months, depending on the value of the resource you tried to transfer.
Never give away or hide money in an attempt to qualify for SSI benefits. And, in the event that your financial situation changes or you think you made a mistake, and you think you qualify for benefits even if you were ineligible before, you can request a new SSI interview to reassess your resources.