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Can you Buy a House if you are Collecting SSI Disability?
"I know a person who has been on disability over 20 years, she received a large settlement, used the money to buy land and build a house. She has been collecting SSI. Is this legal?"
Disability benefits that are awarded under either the Social Security Disability or SSI disability program are meant to compensate for the fact that a recipient is no longer able to engage in work activity (past work or other work) at a substantial and gainful level. Obviously, if an individual could work and earn at least the SGA amount for a given year, they would be using that money to provide for their food and shelter needs.
Your question seems to be focusing on the fact that the individual received a large back pay amount. Back payments are simply awarded based on when a person filed for disability benefits, when their medical onset was established (EOD, or established onset of disability), and, then, how long their claim dragged on as a result of case processing and, most likely, multiple appeals. The process of attempting to win disability benefits can easily take years.
In this case, of course, if it is purely SSI disability only, there would be no other considerations such as the five month waiting period, or the two year waiting period for medicare (SSI recipients receive medicaid not medicare).
Now, how this individual chooses to use their back payment money may turn out be no different from how they use their monthly ongoing benefits. And, if their back pay amount is large enough, some might consider it wholly prudent to put the money toward securing a permanent residence.
Would real property count against an SSI disability recipient since SSI bars recipients from having more than $2000 in assets. Not in this case, if the property will be the primary residence of the individual. That would also be true for the recipient's primary automobile as well.
Everyone once in a while I come across a question like this and I have to wonder if the submitter really believes that a person on disability should not be allowed to own a home. In this case, what should the individual be compelled to do according to the opinions of others? Rent an apartment instead of own?
If the back pay is enough to secure a home of some type (which, for all I know, could be manufactured housing on a very small plot of land), would it not make more sense to buy? It would certainly be a way of avoiding rent, which, in many people's eyes, is just throwing money away on something you never own or have principal rights to.
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For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.
The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.
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