Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

What should I know about resources when I seek SSI benefits?

When an Alabama resident is blind or disabled, has limited income and resources and is 65 or older, that individual can apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). People tend to focus on what is perceived as the most important aspect of a claim -- the disability or blindness -- and forget that their resources must be limited to be approved for SSI benefits. Understanding resources is a critical factor to get the benefits. Failure to do so can result in denied SSI claims. For these issues, it might be useful to have legal advice.

Resources are items that the person owns. That can include cash, a home, life insurance policy, bank accounts, stocks, vehicles and basically anything that can be converted to cash, so the person can use it to acquire food and shelter. A deemed resource is property that will be considered the applicant's property even if it is a resource of a spouse, parent and others. The person can have a certain amount of resources without it impacting their SSI claim. For an individual, its value is limited to $2,000. For a couple, it is $3,000.

Some resources do not count when applying for SSI benefits. A home where the person resides; household items and personal items like a wedding ring; a burial plot; funds for burial that are worth $1,500 or less; life insurance worth $1,500 or less; grants and educational awards to pay for schooling and other expenses for nine months after they have been received; and as much as $100,000 in an ABLE account.

There are other resources that will not be calculated under SSI, including property the person needs to be able to support him or herself; resources for a disabled or blind person to become self-supporting; money in an Individual Development Account (IDA) and more. People can sell or give resources away, but this might affect eligibility.

People who believe they are eligible for SSI benefits might not expect to be denied due to resources. To ensure the claim is decided on based on the applicant's disability, blindness and income limitations instead of resources, it is important to understand the process and how these resources are calculated.

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