Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based program for people who have disabilities and low income and low assets. (In contrast, Social Security disability insurance, or SSDI, has no asset limits, but does have work history requirements. Individuals who qualify for SSDI are able to do so because the taxes they've paid have allowed them to become "insured" for SSDI benefits. Learn more about SSDI eligibility.)
To be eligible to receive SSI benefits based on disability, an SSI applicant who is single cannot have more than $2,000 in assets. (But not all assets count toward the SSI resource limit, as discussed below.)
If an SSI applicant or recipient is married (even if only one person is eligible for disability), the asset limit is $3,000. All of a spouse's assets count toward the limit except for the spouse's IRA or pension plan.
Similarly, if a child under 18 is the SSI applicant or recipient, the parent's assets will count toward the asset limit if the child lives with a parent. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will also count the assets of a parent's spouse. The SSA will ignore the first $2,000 of a parent's total countable resources, or, if the child lives with two parents, $3,000. Any assets above that amount will be counted toward the child's $2,000 resource limit.
How does the SSA define assets? The SSA actually calls assets "resources," which are money or something you own that you could turn into cash. The following items will count as resources for the SSI program:
Learn more about how the SSA can monitor the money you have in a checking or savings account.
Your home. Even if you own your home outright, the SSA won't count it as an asset for the SSI program. To be excluded from (not counted toward) the SSA's asset limit, your house must be your principal residence. The exclusion includes your home, the land it's built on, and any adjacent buildings.
Your car. The SSA will exclude one car or truck from the asset limit if you need it for transportation; otherwise, the value of a car up to $4,500 will be excluded from the resource limit (in other words, any value in the car over $4,500 counts as an asset).
Wedding rings. A wedding ring and engagement ring (of any value) will be excluded from the SSI resource limit.
ABLE accounts. The SSA will exclude the money in an ABLE account (up to $100,000) for SSI purposes. ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts are special accounts for those disabled before the age of 26 and they don't count as assets for the purpose of SSI eligibility.
PASS savings. Income that an SSI recipient sets aside for an SSI "plan for achieving self-support" (PASS) is not counted. For instance, you could save up over $2,000 in order to attend a school or training program.
IDA savings. The SSA doesn't count money saved in an "individual development account" (IDA) for SSI eligibility purposes. IDAs are special accounts designed to allow those receiving TANF funds to save specifically for school, the purchase of a home, or to start a business. (TANF stands for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.) The money used to fund the account comes from money you make from working. In addition, some states' TANF programs match the savings you put into the account.
Burial savings. The SSA will not count burial funds up to $1,500 each for you and your spouse, plus burial plots for your immediate family.
Support payments. You can save some government support payments for up to nine months before they count toward your SSI resource limit (without this exception, they would immediately count as cash or money in the bank that could put you over the resource limit). They include:
SSI applicants whose assets exceed the $2,000 limit ($3,000 if married) are ineligible for benefits. In fact, the SSA won't evaluate the claims of applicants who are over the resource limit to see if they are medically eligible for disability benefits. They will get a "technical denial" of benefits.
Current SSI recipients who receive money or property that puts them over the resource limit are in danger of losing their benefits. And if you receive benefits for any months in which you had too many assets, the SSA will send you a letter regarding the overpayments it made. Read our article about overpayments for more information.
Learn more about all of the financial eligibility requirements for SSI disability.
Updated March 11, 2022