You’ve won your SSI case! Now what? There are specific rules that Social Security Administration has in place that affects how you can spend SSI money.
Spending Your SSI Benefits
If you are a direct recipient of SSI benefits, technically there is no limit to what you can use the money for. But it is important to watch how your spending affects your resources and income.
The Social Security Administration has a resource limit. This means if you have too much money or have too many resources, you will no longer qualify for SSI benefits. The Social Security Administration keeps track of your resources by looking at the “countable resources” of each SSI recipient. Countable resources are things that you own, like money, property, stocks, and bank accounts.
To stay eligible for SSI benefits, your countable resources must not exceed $2,000 if you are single or $3,000 if you are married. As a result, you must monitor what you purchase to ensure that the items you purchase do not increase your assets and resources past the countable resources limit. You also must monitor what money you save as this could also result in savings that could pass the resource limit.
Keep in mind, some purchases are “exempt resources” that do not count toward the $2,000/$3,000 resource limit. These exempt resources include household goods, personal effects, items required because of a physical or mental impairment, one home, and one car. To take a full look at all of the resources that do not count for SSI, check out Social Security’s website here.
Spending SSI Benefits as a Representative Payee
More than eight million people who get SSI benefits need help to manage their money. In these cases, Social Security will appoint a relative or friend to act as the “representative payee.” If you agree to serve as a representative payee, you have to follow the Social Security Administration’s rules.
First, you must take care of the day-to-day needs of the SSI beneficiary, including needs for their food and shelter. Then, you can use the money for medical and dental care that’s not covered by health insurance. You can also pay for personal needs, like clothing and recreation.
Spending a Large Payment of Past-Due Benefits
In some cases, Social Security will pay the SSI beneficiaries past-due benefits all at once in a lump sum payment.
If you receive a lump-sum payment as an SSI beneficiary, you must spend down the money below the SSI countable resource limits. Goods and services must be purchased in the same calendar month in which the lump sum is received.
If you are a representative payee and the SSI beneficiary receives a lump sum payment, you must first spend the money on the current needs of the SSI beneficiaries, including rent, food, or furnishings. After paying for those expenses, you can spend the lump sum payment to improve the SSI beneficiaries living conditions or spend the money on medical care.
If you are a beneficiary who just won your SSI case or you are a representative payee, make sure you are aware of how your spending can impact SSI benefits. The rules surrounding SSI spending can be complex. If you are unsure of your benefits eligibility, consult with the LaPorte Law Firm. We are here to answer all of your questions about SSI.