If you are over 65 years old, blind or disabled, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To determine your eligibility, you must either be a US citizen or a long time resident of the United States and you must also meet some financial requirements as well.
In general, you should have less than $2,000 in assets (including any investments and real estate that you own solely or jointly) and have a monthly income that is less than what your monthly SSI benefits would be. There are however, certain assets that are considered exempt and are not counted when calculating eligibility.
- Real estate that is your primary residence
- Household furniture and goods
- One vehicle
- Your wedding rings
- Any property that you use as a means of self-employment as long as it does not exceed $600
- Burial plots
- Burial funds of up to $1,500 for each spouse
- Life Insurance
Prior to 2000, you could create an irrevocable trust and fund it with your assets and still be able to qualify for SSI, but this is no longer the case. Any assets that you have in trust will be included when determining your eligibility for SSI.
In addition, while you can dispose of assets by selling for a fair market value, gifting of any assets could delay your benefits. The Social Security Administration will go back 3 years to determine if you have disposed of any assets in order to qualify for SSI.
As with all government programs, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Gifts to your spouse or to a disabled child are allowed for example, and if you are placed in an institution, there are exceptions for transferring assets as well.
To learn more about qualifying for Supplemental Security Income, you should contact a qualified financial planner or your estate planning attorney.
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