Can you Receive Disability Benefits and have Assets, Investments, a Savings Account?

A recent commenter stated a concern about the effect of assets on a Social Security Disability claim. Apparently, he had been told that to be eligible to receive disability benefits, he could not have possession of assets, including a savings account, or investments such as a CD.

How the social security administration views assets depends on which program a claimant is approved to receive benefits in. Individuals who are awarded Social Security Disability benefits are exempt from any consideration of assets. In other words, assets are not an issue in any sense whatsoever. The reasoning for this is that SSDI (Social Security Disability insurance) is a program that is "paid in to". It is a benefit, but one that workers pay, through FICA deductions, for the privilege of drawing upon, if they so need (at retirement, or at a point at which they become disabled and unable to work.

SSI, supplemental security income, however, is different. SSI is a need-based program and it provides disability benefits to those who have never worked, or have worked but so long ago that their insured status for Social Security Disability has lapsed, or are actually eligible for Social Security Disability, but only to receive a relatively small Social Security Disability check (in which case they might receive concurrent SSD and SSI benefits to ensure a certain minimum monthly benefit).

SSI recipients, consequently, are ineligible to receive SSI if they have more than two thousand dollars in countable assets. Countable assets would include real property other than the home a person actually resides in, automobiles in addition to the one that is primarily used for transportation, excess funds in checking and savings accounts (excess would be money in addition to that which would be used for regular ongoing expenses), cash value in life insurance policies, and so forth.

Basically, nearly anything that can be readily liquidated to cash and is not essential for daily life (such as a home and car and money in the bank to pay bills) is considered a countable asset.

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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