The Social Security Administration distributes Social Security and SSI benefits and sometimes provides concurrent benefits to recipients. These eligible individuals receive Social Security benefits in the maximum amount for which they qualify, and Supplemental Security Income provides additional benefits. Receiving Social Security does not limit your resources or assets, including a savings account. SSI is need-based and restricts your resources unless you receive approval from Social Security. SSI has at least two ways to have a savings account with approval.
Social Security Benefits
Individuals who qualify for Social Security benefits in an amount less than SSI benefits may be able to qualify for both. These workers have low earnings as a result of disability, blindness or some intervening event before reaching retirement age. Although Social Security benefits are low, your assets are not relevant to receiving Social Security benefits. Social Security bases benefits on work history with payment of Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes.
You must qualify for SSI benefits separately from Social Security. SSI requires low income and few resources with reporting and continued qualification. As of April 2011, qualification for SSI requires resources under $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple. This includes bank accounts, cash, stocks, bonds or similar assets. Some assets do not count in the totals, including a home, household furnishings, a car and burial plots and insurance under $1,500. SSI benefits are $674 in 2011 and Social Security subtracts the Social Security benefits less $20 exemption from this amount. If you receive $400 in Social Security, the first $20 is exempt. Subtract the $380 remaining from the total $674 SSI benefits to give the recipient $294 in SSI benefits. Some states supplement SSI benefits, and SSI recipients can receive supplemental nutrition assistance or food stamps in all states except California.
Plans to Achieve Self-Support or PASS is an approved program for individuals receiving SSI disability. You must have a written plan approved by Social Security to participate in PASS. This can be a work goal for training or development of a business. Funds you set aside for your PASS goals do not count in your resources.
An Individual Development Account allows an SSI recipient to save money that does not count in the resources total. This bank account can be for education, for purchase of a first home or for establishing a business. Original funds for the IDA come from your work. Some states have Temporary Aid to Needy Families demonstration funds that match an IDA account. The earnings, the matching funds and the interest in an IDA account do not count for SSI income or resources calculations.
- Social Security Administration: Understanding Supplemental Security Income — General Information
- Social Security Administration: Understanding Supplemental Security Income -- SSI Spotlight on Plans to Achieve Self–Support 2011 Edition
- Social Security Administration: SSI Spotlight on Individual Development Accounts 2011 Edition
- Social Security Administration: Understanding Supplemental Security Income — Resources 2011 Edition
- Social Security Administration: Understanding Supplemental Security Income — Income 2011 Edition