To be eligible for Supplement Security Income (SSI), applicants must have a countable resources limit of $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for an eligible couple. Countable resources refer to any valuable items owned by a person. They include cash, life insurance, banks account(s), U.S. savings bonds, personal property, assets that can be converted to cash, and deemed resources.
Deemed Resources: What Are They?
Deemed resources are items of value owned by the applicant’s parent, spouse, or sponsor that the Social Security Administration (SSA) treats as belonging to the SSI applicant. The SSA counts deemed resources when determining SSI benefits.
If a minor child lives with a single parent, $2,000 of the total countable resources owned by the parent will not count as the parent’s deemed resources. If the minor child lives with both parents, $3,000 of the parents’ pooled countable resources will not count. The SSA will consider any amount above these limits as belonging to the child.
What Resources Do Not Count Toward SSI Limit?
- The house an applicant resides and the land where that house seats
- One vehicle, irrespective of value, used for transportation by either the applicant or any other household member
- Life insurance covers valued at $1,500 or below
- Household items and personal effects, including engagement and wedding rings
- Burial funds for the applicant and his or her spouse, each with a value of $1,500
- Retroactive SSI and SSDI benefits for not less than nine months upon receipt
- Medicaid benefits
Obtaining Conditional SSI Benefits
A claimant may sell real estate assets or other items of value that put him or her above the SSI resource limit. The claimant can receive conditional SSI benefits while attempting to sell the excess resources. He or she must submit a duly signed conditional benefits agreement to get these benefits.
Once the sale is complete, however, the claimant must repay the SSI benefits he or she collected during the sales period. A claimant who undervalues a resource to sell it quickly or simply gives it away may be disqualified from SSI benefits for at least 3 years.
Conditional SSI benefits are available to those attempting to sell real estate and personal property for up to nine months and three months respectively. Those trying to sell real estate property with relatively high property taxes should find a way to bring down those tax bills. One option is to appeal the tax bill by working closely with a property tax appeals attorney. If the appeal is successful, the relevant tax authority will lower the property value.
While the tax rate will remain the same, it will lead to a drop in the tax bill. A reasonable property value coupled with a fair tax bill will attract more potential buyers, increasing the chances of selling the property fast.
Bankruptcy And Social Security Benefits
Under bankruptcy law, both SSDI and SSI benefits are exempt. A recipient will not lose these benefits after filing for bankruptcy. The recipient should keep in mind that bankruptcy protection exists only if he or she can prove the funds originated from Social Security benefits. Keeping these benefits in a separate account is, therefore, a wise decision. Otherwise, once combined with other funds it would be hard to prove that the money is from Social Security benefits and not another source.