SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is a monthly cash benefit for disabled or blind people who have limited income and resources. There are specific limits on your resources and income that you have to fall under in order to be eligible for SSI benefits. Resources, or assets, are cash and things that you own that can be sold for cash. Common resources you may have include cash, money in bank accounts, stocks, land, personal property, and vehicles.
Limit on Resources
If you are single, you can have only $2,000 worth of resources to be eligible for SSI benefits. If you are married, you can have up to $3,000 worth of resources.
Not all resources are counted toward the limit. The $2,000 and $3,000 limits mentioned above are only for “counted resources.” There are many resources that the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not count for purposes of determining your eligibility for SSI, and the most common include: the house you live in, the land the house you live in is on, household goods, such as furniture, personal possessions, such as a wedding ring, and one vehicle, as long as you or someone in your house uses it for transportation.
Deeming of Family Resources
If you are married, the SSA will count ("deem available") a portion of your spouse's assets as belonging to you.
If you are applying for SSI for your child (who lives with you), the SSA will count your resources, and the resources of your spouse if you both live in the same household with the child, as being available to the child. However, the SSA won't count the first $2,000 of your countable resources (or the first $3,000 if you are married). Any assets above that amount will be counted toward the child's $2,000 resource limit.
If your resources are over the amount allowed for SSI, you may be able to sell resources and still receive SSI benefits while you are trying to sell them. The benefits you receive while trying to sell resources are called "conditional benefits." After you sell the resource you must pay back the conditional benefits. Before conditional payments can begin, you must sign a "conditional benefits agreement" and the SSA must accept that agreement. Once you have signed a conditional benefits agreement, you can generally receive SSI benefits for up to nine months while you are trying to sell real estate (for example, land or a house you do not live in) and for up to three months while you are trying to sell personal property (for example, a second car).
Keep in mind, however, that the money you receive from the sale of the resource may put you over the resource limit and make you ineligible for SSI. And if you give away a resource or sell it for less than it is worth, you may not be eligible for SSI for up to 36 months, depending on the value of the resource.
If you have assets that are over the resource limit, the SSA will give your disability claim a "technical denial"--that is, the SSA will deny your claim without even evaluating whether you are disabled.