Social Security Disability - Do assets count?

When it comes to non-medical eligibility criteria for SSDI, otherwise known as Social Security Disability insurance, assets are not an issue at all. The reasoning behind this is fairly clear. Social Security Disability benefits are considered by the federal government to be a form of social insurance. And like insurance, the SSD program incorporates a number of features used by insurance plans.

For instance, just like private disability insurance, the availability of Social Security Disability benefits is based on insured status. How do you become insured for SSD? By working and earning a sufficient number of work credits over several years time. Also, like private disability insurance, SSD also has the equivalent of an elimination period. Only with SSD, this period (during which a person who has been approved for disability is not eligible to receive benefits) is called the "five month waiting period".

What happens if you become disabled and are not insured for Social Security Disability benefits? You apply for SSI. SSI stands for supplemental security income and through this program (labeled title 16 of the social security act) an individual may apply for and potentially be award disability benefits.

Are assets an issue when it comes to determining eligibility for SSI disability? Yes. And the reasoning behind this is also clear. SSI is a need-based program. And as a need-based program, individuals with substantial assets are not eligible to receive benefits (disability or otherwise) under the program.

How much can you have in assets and still be eligible to receive SSI disability? Currently, the asset limit for SSI is two thousand dollars in countable assets. What are countable assets? Generally, the kinds of assets that are not countable are the home you live in, the vehicle you use for primary transportation, irrevocable trusts, a burial plot for yourself, and checking account balances that are used to pay bills.

Assets that would be countable, on the other hand, include excess real property, the fair market value of vehicles other than your primary vehicle, balances in savings accounts, excess burial plots, and revocable trusts. This, of course, is not a complete list of countable assets, but it does illustrate the nature of what the social security administration may count against you if you are filing for SSI disability benefits.


1. What Are Countable Assets For Social Security Disability and SSI?
2. What are the Assets that count for SSI 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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