What if I receive property or income after I apply for Social Security Disability?

Receiving assets can disqualify you from SSI but not Social Security Disability (SSD).

The answer to this question depends upon which disability program you are applying for. The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages two disability programs with their own rules of eligibility.  Most individuals who apply for disability benefits through the SSA will be evaluated for both Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility.

Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability (SSD) is based upon an individual's work activity. Individuals who have worked enough to be insured for their age (the number of quarters it takes to be insured depend upon an individual's age) will receive a disability benefit if they are found to be medically disabled. Owning or receiving property does not prohibit an individual from winning Social Security disability benefits, because the SSD program has no resource limits. Nor does SSD have a limit to the amount of unearned income you have, such as money from investments, interests, cash gifts, or inheritance. So if you receive any of these items after you apply, your eligibility won't be affected. (However, if you go back to work after you apply and earn over $1,170 per month, you won't be considered disabled unless you are in a trial work program.)

Supplemental Security Income

The second disability program administered by the Social Security is SSI. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based program that is designed to help individuals who have not worked, not worked much, or not worked recently, if the individual meets income and resource limits. Each year Social Security establishes income and resource limits for this program. Since the resource limit is currently $2,000, property ownership may prevent you from receiving SSI. However, the land that you live on and your house and your most valuable vehicle are excluded from the limit. Resources that count toward the limit are bank accounts, cash gifts, retirement plans, stocks, bonds, inheritances, jewelry (except a wedding and engagement ring), and household goods and personal effects over $2,000.

If your property is clearly over the SSI resource limit when you apply for SSI at  the  Social Security office, you will most likely be denied when you complete your initial disability interview (unless you qualify for SSD). If your income and property are under the resource limit, your claim will be sent to Disability  Determination  Services (DDS) to evaluate your disability. After DDS says whether you are disabled or not, your claim will be sent back to your local Social Security office for an end-line review to determine if you still meet the income and resource limits of the SSI program.  So even if you are  approved, you could still receive a denial because of too many resources/assets at an end-line SSI review if your financial circumstances have changed.

You are required to tell the SSA if your financial information changes after you apply. For instance, if, after you apply, you receive some unexpected income, such as child support, or you receive property, you have to tell the SSA. Failing to tell the SSA of changes in your finances, even after you start to receive benefits, can result in your having to pay back overpayments, and possibly be charged with penalties and fraud.

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