What happens to my assets if I file for Social Security Disability?
This is a common question for people who are considering filing for SSDI. There is a belief that all Social Security Disability programs require you to have no assets or that you have to give up your assets. This simply is not true for either Social Security program for disability benefits, namely Social Security Disability Insurance and SSI (Supplemental Security Income).
If you file for SSDI, you do not have to even consider what assets you have. Social Security Disability is based upon an insured status gained through your work prior to becoming disabled. You paid payroll taxes on your earnings that allowed you to be insured for disability. If you think about it, payroll taxes are like premiums paid. Additionally, your disability benefit is determined by the yearly amounts of your earnings prior to becoming disabled. This explains the wide range of benefits paid to Social Security Disability applicants.
If you file for SSI disability, your assets can be a problem as this program is a need based disability program and as such it requires that your income and resources (assets) be under the SSI income and resource limits to eligible for benefits.
However, even this program allows you to have some assets. SSI allows you to have 2000.00 in assets (bank accounts, pensions, cars, etc) after excluding the home you live in and your highest valued vehicle. If your assets are more than the limits, you can eliminate assets but you have to sell them for their true value and show how you spent the money. You cannot give or gift them to avoid selling them; if you do, your SSI benefits will be suspended or even terminated until your assets are below the limit.
In summary, you should schedule an appointment to file for disability with your local Social Security office. They will evaluate you eligibility for both programs and you can decide the best decision for you with regard to filing for disability.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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