Question of the Month: “Do My Assets Affect My Ability to Receive Disability Payments?”

December 3, 2022

Can you have financial assets and receive disability benefits payments?

That depends on which disability program you qualify for. Social Security runs two disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (which is known as SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (commonly referred to as SSI).

SSDI pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you have a disability and you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes recently enough.

SSI, on the other hand, is based on financial need. The Social Security Administration says, “It is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income.” For more on this subject read our blog post “Why Do I Qualify for SSI, but not for SSDI?”

Many clients think that assets will affect their SSDI, when in truth, almost no assets affect SSDI.

Qualifying for SSDI is based on your inability to work, and your benefits payment is based on your lifetime average earnings before you developed a disability. SSDI payments are not affected by having a house, a car, money in the bank, or owning other possessions.

On the other hand, many SSI clients are surprised to learn that assets do affect their benefits. Social Security takes into consideration the amount of your assets because SSI is a needs-based program.

To be eligible for SSI, your assets must be less than $2,000 for an individual and less than $3,000 for a married couple. However, not all assets count towards the resource limits. The SSA lists 44 resource exclusions. The major exclusions include:

  • Your home
  • One automobile
  • Household goods (furniture, etc.)
  • Personal effects (jewelry, art work, etc.) as long as the SSI claimant is actually using the items
  • Up to $100,000 in an ABLE account
  • Assets in a special needs trust

In addition to asset limitations, there are earned income and unearned income limits that you may not exceed. If you exceed the asset or income limits, Social Security may reduce or even potentially terminate your benefits.

The requirements for SSDI and SSI are complicated, and Social Security has an application with many questions to determine your eligibility.

If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability benefits, or if you applied and were turned down for benefits, it is only natural that you will have many questions.

Let the experienced Chicagoland disability lawyers from Nash Disability Law help you navigate the complicated and often confusing path to winning Social Security Disability benefits.

Call or email us today for a free evaluation of your case.