The Social Security Administration distributes Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and sometimes provides concurrent benefits to recipients. These eligible individuals receive Social Security benefits in the maximum amount they qualify for, 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 permission. So, you can have a savings account if you receive Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but there may be a time when that is not possible.
Social Security Benefits
Those that receive Social Security or SSI benefits must meet different criteria.
Social Security Benefits
The taxes you pay during your highest-earning working years determine your Social Security. These involve the payment of Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes. Your ability to access these benefits also depends on the age you start to receive these benefits.
You will receive the money you pay into the program if you meet the minimum age and immigration status requirements. For this reason, having a savings account does not influence your ability to access Social Security. Other kinds of assets that you own also don’t affect access to these benefits. That is why even wealthy people receive their share of payments.
For many people, Social Security is not enough for them to retire on. So, suppose your Social Security benefits add up to amounts less than what SSI considers as the bare minimum for its eligible candidates. In that case, you could also access both kinds of benefits.
Supplemental Security Income Benefits
Typically, eligible SSI candidates have low earnings due to disability, blindness, or some intervening event before reaching retirement age. However, elderly American citizens or legal aliens who have reached 65 years may also be eligible for SSI benefits.
You must qualify for SSI benefits separately from Social Security. SSI requires people to earn low income and own few countable resources with reporting and continued qualification. But SSI and savings account can still happen.
As of 2021, the qualification criteria for SSI require these countable resources to be under $2,000 for an individual. The limit is $3,000 for a couple who live together. That includes resources that count towards the set limit, such as bank accounts, cash, stocks, bonds or similar assets.
However, some assets are not considered countable resources. These include your primary home and the land it is on, household goods or personal effects, a car, burial plots or funds of $1,500 or less, and insurance policies with a combined value of under $1,500.
So, if your savings account contains more than $2,000 in the bank, you may not qualify for SSI benefits. However, if what you receive as Social Security combined with the countable resources is less than the set limits, you may receive some SSI benefits. But the SSI amount will depend on what you are getting.
For 2021, the maximum monthly SSI benefits are $794 for an eligible individual or $1,191 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse. But if you are an essential person, your maximum SSI benefit is $397.
Calculating SSI Benefits When Receiving Social Security
You can use the available calculation guidelines to estimate how much SSI you would get if you receive Social Security. The amount will vary depending on whether you earn an income from working or not.
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 (PASS)
PASS is an approved program for individuals with disabilities receiving SSI or SSI Disability funds. It is meant to help them go back to work and become financially independent.
You must have a written business plan approved by Social Security to participate in PASS. That 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 and won’t compromise your benefits for as long as you need them.
Individual Development Account (IDA)
An Individual Development Account allows an SSI recipient to save money that does not count in the resources’ total. It is meant for people with few assets and low incomes. The bank account can be for education, purchasing a first home, or establishment of 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. And the contributions come from donors. The earnings, the matching funds and the interest in an IDA account do not count for SSI income or resources calculations.
There is no doubt that you can have a savings account if you receive both SSI and Social Security. However, SSI requires you to follow stringent rules, or you risk losing the benefits. For that reason, it pays to find alternative ways of keeping a savings account by opening an IDA or participating in PASS so you can keep your SSI for as long as you need it. Therefore, having SSI, PASS, and IDA is possible.
- USA.Gov: Top Questions About Social Security
- USAToday: Do billionaires get Social Security?
- Benefits.Gov: What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
- SSA.Gov: You May Be Able to Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- SSA.Gov: WHAT ARE RESOURCES?
- SSA.Gov: SSI Federal Payment Amounts for 2021
- SSA.Gov: Understanding Supplemental Security Income SSI Income -- 2021 Edition
- Very Well Health: Guide to the SSA's Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) Program
- Vawnet.Org: Individual Development Accounts
Linda Richard has been a legal writer and antiques appraiser for more than 25 years, and has been writing online for more than 12 years. Richard holds a bachelor's degree in English and business administration. She has operated a small business for more than 20 years. She and her husband enjoy remodeling old houses and are currently working on a 1970s home.