What Can You Own on Social Security Disability?

January 29, 2024

Understanding what one can own while receiving Social Security Disability benefits is critical for beneficiaries looking to maintain their financial aid. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees two primary disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is focused on individuals who have a sufficient work history and have paid into the Social Security trust fund, whereas SSI is aimed at those with limited income and resources.

Eligibility for SSDI does not depend on the assets an individual owns. You can have savings, investments, and property and still receive SSDI benefits as long as you meet the work history requirements and your condition qualifies as a disability under SSA guidelines. In contrast, SSI is a need-based program, and there are strict limits on the assets and income an individual or a couple may have in order to qualify for SSI benefits.

When it comes to SSI, understanding asset limits is essential because exceeding these can result in the reduction or loss of benefits. Individuals must stay within the set financial limits on countable assets, which typically excludes the primary residence, one vehicle, and certain personal belongings. It’s important for beneficiaries to know these specifics to effectively navigate their financial landscape while on disability assistance.

Photo of SSD Form

Understanding Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability Insurance, SSDI, and Supplemental Security Income, SSI, are programs designed to assist individuals who are unable to work due to a qualifying disability. The Social Security Administration manages these programs with distinctive criteria for eligibility and benefits.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for SSDI benefits, an individual must have worked in jobs covered by Social Security and have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability. Generally, the condition must be severe enough to prevent the person from working for at least a year or be expected to result in death. Moreover, for residents in California, as with any other state, the same federal guidelines for eligibility are adhered to without additional state-specific requirements.

Beneficiaries can understand the specific eligibility criteria for SSDI, which includes a detailed list by the SSA of impairments considered severe enough to prevent an individual from working.

Benefits Overview

The SSDI program provides financial support to eligible individuals as well as certain members of their families. The benefit amount is based on the beneficiary’s earned Social Security credits from their work history. Conversely, SSI benefits are not determined by past employment but rather by financial need. This program is funded by general tax revenues and is aimed at helping aged, blind, and disabled individuals who have limited income and resources.

Potential recipients can learn more about SSI payments and benefits including the fact that these benefits are not contingent upon an individual’s work history, but income and resources are considered.

Personal Assets and Resources

Eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits is subject to strict asset and resource limits. Individuals and families must navigate these financial criteria to maintain eligibility.

Asset Limits

For Supplemental Security Income (SSI), an individual must have assets valued at less than $2,000, while couples are capped at $3,000. Assets include cash, bank accounts, stocks, U.S. savings bonds, land, life insurance, personal property, and more.

Exempt Resources

Not all assets count towards the SSI asset limit. Exemptions can include:

  • Primary residence
  • One vehicle used for transportation
  • Household goods and personal effects
  • Life insurance policies with a combined face value of under $1,500
  • Burial spaces and certain burial funds

Home Ownership

Homeownership is generally not counted as an asset for SSI if it is the primary residence of the individual or family receiving disability benefits. This includes both the home and the land it is on.

Employment While on Disability

Navigating employment while receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is bounded by specific rules and programs designed to aid beneficiaries. Knowing these regulations is crucial for maintaining eligibility for disability pay.

Substantial Gainful Activity

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) is a term used to describe a level of work and earnings. In 2023, non-blind individuals are limited to a monthly income of more than $1,470, which, if exceeded, might indicate they’re capable of engaging in competitive employment, thus risking the cessation of SSDI benefits.

Trial Work Period

The Trial Work Period permits individuals to test their ability to work for at least nine months without losing benefits. They can receive unlimited earnings during these months until they reach a certain threshold set by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Ticket to Work Program

Lastly, the Ticket to Work Program offers beneficiaries free and voluntary services such as career counseling, vocational rehabilitation, and job training. Working While Disabled: How We Can Help details how individuals can use this program as a pathway to economic independence while still receiving SSDI benefits.

Legal Considerations

When navigating the complexities of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, understanding the legal considerations is crucial. This includes knowing when to seek legal advice, understanding the disability claims process, and being aware of the steps to take when appealing a decision.

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Seeking Legal Advice

Individuals may find it beneficial to consult with a lawyer specializing in social security disability law before filing a claim. Legal experts can offer guidance on the necessary documentation, help ensure applications are thoroughly completed, and advise on legal strategies to help strengthen a case.

Disability Claims Process

The claims process involves several stages, from initial application to determination of eligibility. Throughout this process, legal representation can be critical in clarifying social security law and in navigating the required procedures. Properly submitted evidence can have a significant impact on the outcome of the claim.

Appealing a Decision

If an individual’s claim is denied, understanding the appeals process is vital. A disability lawyer from Pisegna And Zimmerman will be happy to assist you in filing for reconsideration, preparing for a hearing before an administrative law judge, or taking further legal action if necessary. The appeals process can be complex, and our team’s legal expertise is sure to increase the chances of a successful outcome.


Category: Blog