Thursday, August 18, 2011

Income and Resources That Count Towards Determining Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

One of the main factors in obtaining Supplemental Security Income (SSI) depends on your income and resources:

Income

Income is all earned and unearned income. Earned income usually comes in the form of wages or self-employment and is usually money earned from a job. Unearned income is usually in the form of pensions, Unemployment, State Disability, Child Support, etc. There is a difference between earned and unearned income when determining your award amount. Working income may be weighed more than income received from retirement.

If you are married, your spouse’s income is also counted. If you are under the age of 18 your parents income is counted. The maximum payment and the income limit for SSI is $637.00 a month for a single person and $1,011 for a married couple (this is a federal standard, each state varies due to their cost of living). The amount that you are awarded also depends on living arrangements; if you live in someone’s home your payment may be reduced up to one-third.

Some income does not count, specifically: Food Stamps, tax refunds, cash aid (welfare), or money that someone else may give you to pay for expenses other than food or shelter (like a phone bill or a medical expense). If you are a student, some wages and/or scholarships you receive may not count. Social Security does not count the first $20 a month of income you receive as well as the first $65 a month you earn from working and half the amount that is over $65. If you are disabled or blind, some of the income you use for training or to buy items for work may not count.

Resources

A resource is referred to something you own. These may be items, money or property which has value. The limit for resources is $2,000 for a single person and $3,000 for a married couple. Some resources are excluded:

1) The home you live in and any adjacent land;

2) One vehicle per family (which is your main source of transportation);

3) Life insurance policies with a face value of $1,500 or less;

4) Burial plots;

5) Up to $1,500 in burial funds for you and up to $1,500 in burial funds for your spouse.

Life insurance can be a little complicated. The cash value of the policy is only counted - not the face value. This is the amount you can cash out if and when you need to use this resource. Term life insurance policies don’t usually count as a resource because they do not have a cash value. Whole life insurance policies do count because they have a cash value that can be accessed. Your insurance policy should provide you with a chart of the cash value of your policy, which you must report to Social Security. If you have a policy whose only value is a benefit which can only be paid upon death, this is not counted as a resource.

If you are denied due to excess resources, you can always reapply for SSI if your resources have changed. But you must provide proof to Social Security regarding what happened to the resource and how the money was spent. Did you use it to pay medical expenses? Debt? If your resource was sold you must also provide proof that it was sold at the appropriate cash value on the market. If you sell a resource lower than its market value or give it away you may become ineligible for SSI for up to 36 months.

With disability processing times often at well over a year, it is essential that you ensure your claim is being processed correctly. Hiring a Social Security Disability lawyer to handle your case will guarantee that no mistakes are made and no further delays are placed on your case. To find out more, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.

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