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SSA Disability benefits and bank account balances

How much can you own and still qualify for SSA Disability Benefits?

Recently on our SSA disability benefits forum we had a user ask, “How much money can I have in my bank account and still qualify for SSA disability benefits?” This question is a bit complicated and confuses many disability applicants, but the answer depends entirely on whether you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and bank account balances

Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI are SSA disability benefits provided to workers who are disabled and who cannot work for at least 12 continuous months. To qualify for SSDI disability benefits you will have to prove your condition is severe, you are not working and performing what the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers substantial gainful activity and you are insured. To be insured for SSDI disability benefits you must have worked and paid employment taxes and earned work credits.

If you qualify for SSDI disability benefits the payments are based on your average earnings and your payroll tax contribution to Social Security. The more you have paid into Social Security, the more in monthly benefits you may be entitled to. There is not a set amount. If you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance disability benefits you can review your Statement of Earnings which is sent to you each year by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for an estimated payment amount.

Now, because SSDI disability benefits are something you have theoretically “earned” or paid into, accumulating a set benefit over your lifetime, the SSA has not established any type of threshold for resources. Resources according to the SSA can be any of the following:

  1. Cash

  2. Bank accounts, stocks, U.S. savings bonds

  3. Life Insurance

  4. Personal Property

  5. Vehicles

  6. Or deemed resources from other sources such as a spouse

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits and bank account balances

If you have not worked or paid any employment taxes and you are not insured for SSDI disability benefits you cannot receive SSDI benefits. The Federal Government has, however, established another SSA disability benefits program called Supplemental Security Income or SSI that provides small, monthly, cash payments for the disabled, aged or blind who are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months.

SSI, however, is different from SSDI. Because it is not a program that you have “paid into” or SSA disability benefits that you have “earned” the government has established resource and income limitations.

A resource, according to the SSA, can include anything you own that can be turned into cash including vehicles, land, stocks, bonds, homes, bank accounts and property.

To get SSI, your countable resources must not be worth more than $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple.  There are exemptions. For example, the SSA excludes your primary residence, one vehicle, life insurance up to $1,500, and a burial fund of up to $1,500 each for you and your spouse's burial expenses. There are other resources which may be excluded. Talk to the SSA if you have questions about your resource limit.

Bottom line for SSA disability benefits

If you apply for SSDI there is not a resource limit. If you apply for SSI there is a limit and if your resource limit exceeds it you will be automatically denied SSI benefits.
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