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, but money from some sources doesn't count.

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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.

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 Social Security Administration (SSA). When you apply for SSI, Social Security will ask you about your income and resources from all sources. 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 bank accounts and assets you own. If the amount of money you have 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.

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 bank 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.

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

Yes, 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.

All other cash, money in bank accounts, and savings are counted toward the resource limit, with the exception of money in special savings accounts like an ABLE account, Individual Development Account, or PASS (Program to Achieve Self-Support) savings account. (Since 2014, people who were disabled before the age of 26 are able to keep money above the $2,000 limit in an ABLE account (up to $100,000) and still qualify for SSI.)

Note that you can't have $2,000 in cash (as an individual) if you have other "countable assets." 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 and it's worth $1,000. You can have only another $1,000 in cash.

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.

Will Social Security Count All the Money in a Joint Bank 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 a bank 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 will 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 are "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 bank account.

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 may 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.

Updated March 23, 2022

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