How Much Cash or Money Can I Have Without Affecting SSI Disability Eligibility?

Social Security limits how much you can have in cash you can have in a checking or savings account, though money from some sources doesn't count. And Social Security does check.

Updated by , Attorney · UC Law San Francisco
Updated 1/22/2024

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program has strict limits on the amount of money you can have without it affecting your eligibility for benefits. (For an overview of the Social Security Administration (SSA) rules on the different types of resources you can have, read our article on the SSI asset limits.)

Here are some common questions that people ask about cash and bank accounts as they relate to SSI, including whether Social Security. monitors your bank account.

How Much Money Can I Have in the Bank if I'm on Disability?

You can have up to $2,000 in cash or in the bank and still qualify for, or collect, SSI (Supplemental Security Income).

To be eligible to receive SSI benefits, an SSI applicant or a current SSI recipient can't have more than $2,000 in any type of property or assets. (But not all assets count toward this SSI resource limit, as we'll discuss below.)

If you're married (whether your spouse is eligible for disability for SSI or not), you can't have more than $3,000 in cash or assets. But your spouse's pension or IRA doesn't count as an asset.

How Does the SSI Program Know How Much Cash You Have?

SSI is a federal need-based program for people with low income and low assets. It's run by the SSA. When you apply for SSI, Social Security will ask you about your income and resources from all sources. And after you're approved for SSI, you'll need to report your income to the SSA each month.

Social Security will also ask you about your checking accounts, savings accounts, and assets you own. Even if you don't tell the SSA about a bank account, including an account you might own jointly with someone, the agency will find out about it. The same is true for real estate, even if it's a small piece of property you own with your siblings.

Social Security does regular "data matches" using sophisticated computer software to look for property and bank accounts with your name on them.

Can Social Security Check My Bank Account?

Yes, Social Security can check your bank accounts, including:

  • checking accounts
  • savings association accounts
  • credit union accounts
  • certificates of deposit (CDs), and
  • money market accounts.

When you fill out the application for SSI benefits, you agree to let Social Security check any of these financial accounts, both at the time of the application and during recurring eligibility checks.

To check checking and savings accounts, Social Security uses the "Access to Financial Institutions" (AFI) process, which can also search geographic areas for accounts that you haven't told the SSA about. So even if you have two accounts, or more (which is fine by SSI rules), Social Security will find them all if they have your name on them.

How Often Does Social Security Check Your Bank Account?

Social Security will review your bank account balance as of 12:01 am on the first of every month. So if you have $2,000 in savings, you'll have to spend each month's SSI payment by the end of each month to stay under the $2,000 resource limit. When Social Security checks your bank account, the agency can't see where the money in your account came from, only the total amount. This makes it important to keep track of all deposits in your account and keep a record of where they came from.

This first-of-the-month account monitoring can be a problem if you have some savings, because when your SSI payment gets deposited into your account, Social Security might think you're "over-resource" (have too many assets) if your SSI check increases your balance to over $2,000.

Be aware of early SSI payments. You'll receive early SSI benefits four times a year because the first of the month sometimes falls on a weekend or holiday. In 2024, this happens in the months of January, June, September, and December. So you'll receive your SSI on the 30th or 31st of December 2023, May 2024, August 2024, and November 2024.

Receiving your SSI payment a day early could cause you a headache if you have a significant amount of other money in your account on those dates. This can happen whether your payment is direct-deposited or you cash an early payment check. When Social Security checks your bank account balance on the first of the month, the agency may see a balance that includes your SSI payment from the day before. Social Security may send you a notice that you're over the $2,000 asset limit, even though your SSI payment shouldn't count as an asset until the month after you receive it.

Social Security representatives are supposed to be on the lookout for early SSI payments—so the agency can exclude them from your balance if they would give you excess resources—but they don't always catch it.

State supplemental payments. Some states send or direct-deposit a state supplemental payment separately from the federal SSI payment. These payments too can be deposited early and cause a problem with your balance on the first of the month. Social Security is less likely to be aware that part of your account balance might include a state supplemental payment, so you may have to let them know.

Some assets aren't countable as assets permanently. Again, Social Security can't see where the money in your bank account came from, only the total amount. So if you have exempt resources in your account long-term, like a federal tax refund or pandemic benefits, the SSA might count the funds incorrectly as assets toward your $2,000 limit.

What to do if you get a notice from Social Security. If Social Security sends you a notice that says you have too many assets, be prepared to explain where the money in your bank account came from. To do so, you can call Social Security at 800-772-1213.

Can I Get SSI With More Than $2,000 in My Account?

Yes, you could still get SSI because Social Security doesn't count cash from the following sources, even if it's in your regular bank account:

  • most government support payments
  • disaster relief assistance
  • financial aid money to be used for educational expenses, and
  • flexible spending accounts for health care.

But you'll need to be able to prove to SSI exactly what money is in your bank account.

All other cash, money in the bank, and savings are counted toward the resource limit, with the exception of money in special savings accounts like an ABLE account, Individual Development Account (for TANF funds), or PASS (Program to Achieve Self-Support) savings account.

Note that you can't have $2,000 in cash (as an individual) if you have other "countable resources." You can have the full $2,000 in cash only if you don't have other countable assets. For instance, say you have jewelry that you bought for investment or sale and it's worth $1,000. You can have only another $1,000 in cash.

Reporting Changes in Income or Assets

If the amount of money in your bank account (or under your mattress) goes up, either from gifts or from working, you need to report the change in your assets to the SSA. Social Security will decide whether certain assets or gifts will count against the $2,000 or $3,000 limit.

If you fail to report a change in the amount of cash or other assets that you have, Social Security could apply a penalty to your payments.

You also need to report changes in your living arrangements and marital status. Learn more about the income and changes you need to report to Social Security.

Will Social Security Count All the Money in a Joint Account?

If you co-own a bank account with another SSI recipient, Social Security will assume half of the money in the account belongs to you and will apply it toward the resource limit.

If you co-own an account with someone who is NOT an SSI recipient, Social Security will assume all of the money in the account belongs to you and will apply it toward the resource limit.

But you'll get a chance to explain that you don't own all the funds in an account, or that you don't have the ability to withdraw funds from an account. Social Security calls this "rebutting" (arguing against) their assumption.

When Social Security pauses your benefits because you're over-resource, the agency will send you a letter explaining that it believes you have too much money in your bank account. You can rebut this assumption by calling Social Security or filing Form SSA-2574, Information About Joint Checking/Savings Accounts. The same is true if Social Security denies your initial application because you have too much money in your account.

Besides Money, What Else Does Social Security Count as Assets?

It's easier to define what countable assets are by pointing out what they are not. Countable assets don't include the house you live in or your primary automobile, but Social Security will count second and third cars or trucks, as well as additional real estate. Social Security also ignores the value of household goods, including:

  • furniture
  • appliances
  • computers and televisions
  • kitchenware and dishes
  • clothing
  • jewelry that is worn regularly or kept for family significance, including weddings and engagement rings, and
  • recreational items such as musical instruments and books.

For more details, see our article on which resources are included in the SSI asset limit.

What if I'm Over the SSI Resource Limit?

If you're over the resource limit, Social Security will stop your SSI payments. But it may take several months for the SSA to figure out that you are over the $2,000 or $3,000 limit, so you might get SSI payments for the months that you are over the limit.

Social Security will consider these payments as "overpayments." Social Security will want to get the overpayments back, even if it's not your fault that the agency made the payments by mistake. Here's what Social Security will do when it discovers an overpayment.

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