Like Social Security disability benefits, the SSI program pays monthly benefits to people with low income. Unlike SSDI, however, SSI eligibility does not require a substantial work history — with the accompanying contributions paid into the Social Security system. For that reason, limitations on financial savings are imposed only for SSI, rather than SSDI recipients. Yet SSI’s asset ceiling has not been adjusted for inflation since 1989, when savings were capped at $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple. While some assets, such as the recipient’s home or car, might not count against that limit, the SSI test generally includes all other resources, even defined-contribution retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs. The program also makes no exception for savings accounts designated exclusively for retirement or education purposes.
The asset restrictions imposed by the SSI program perpetuates a poverty-line existence. For example, recipients may be discouraged from accepting a part-time job — which would provide valuable experience and potentially lead to full-time work — out of fear that the extra income would disqualify them from SSI benefits, yet not pay enough to take the place of the monthly federal benefit payments. For the same reason, recipients may be forced to spend down savings in order to maintain their eligibility.
Our law firm handles situations similar to the ones discussed in this post. To learn more about the SSI and SSDI programs and how we can improve your chance for success, contact the Philadelphia Social Security Disability attorneys of the Disability and Injury Law Offices of David R. Machek for a free consultation at: (215) 886-0398 or at: http://www.disabilitylawpa.com