If I Get An Inheritance Will That Affect My Eligibility For Social Security Disability?

If an individual is receiving Social Security Disability benefits only, there is no reason to worry about an inheritance. Social Security Disability entitlement is based solely upon insured status, which means that if an individual is insured (through their work activity) for Social Security benefits, then resources (assets) and sources of income--other than wages--do not affect their entitlement to disability.

On the other hand, if an individual is entitled to both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability, then an inheritance may make them ineligible to receive their SSI portion of their monthly disability benefits.

Lastly if an individual is receiving SSI disability only, an inheritance will most certainly have some kind of effect upon their entitlement to monthly disability benefits.

Why is SSI treated this way when SSD is not? SSI is a need-based disability program and, as such, it has limits to the resources and income an individual can have and yet still be entitled to SSI disability benefits. In fact, individuals who receive SSI disability benefits are periodically reviewed to make sure that even though they are medically disabled, they still meet the disability program's income and resource limits.

Income can come from a variety of sources including pensions, workman's compensation, long or short-term disability, VA disability, or even wages, and be counted toward an SSI beneficiary's eligibility for SSI disability payments. Additionally, SSI recipients must meet income and resource limits in order to remain entitled to disability benefits. Resources can be, but are not limited to, land other than where you live, vehicles other than the highest valued, bank accounts, stocks, inheritance, trust funds, bonds, cash, etc. And, just like income, resources can make an individual ineligible for SSI disability benefits even if they still remain medically disabled.

If an individual receives an inheritance and they are receiving SSI disability benefits, they should contact their local Social Security office for information as to how the inheritance can be handled. Depending on the amount of the inheritance, it may make an individual ineligible for a few months or even more.

Remember, if an individual is receiving Social Security Disability only, there is no need to worry about an inheritance no matter what the amount is. Social Security Disability is not a need-based disability program.

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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