My car was totaled 2.5 years ago when a driver ran a red light. I had considerable medical costs, pain, suffering and have been without a car the entire time. My attorney paid Medicare back for the medical costs. But, I'm not sure what to do next...If I report the settlement to SSI how will my benefits be affected? I feel like I should be entitled to buy a new vehicle to replace the one that was totaled, as well as buy few necessities. What is allowed? Will they take all of the money I was awarded in the settlement as back pay? Will they require receipts? Should I cash the check and deposit it in my sisters account? Or spend it all immediately? Please advise...
Oh boy. This is a an area requiring very specific legal knowledge. Hopefully your attorney has handled everything correctly. You are under certain time limits to spend down on allowable items, also certain purchases should be made without the monies touching your hands. You absolutely need to sit down with your attorney and discuss.
SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI) RESOURCES
WHAT ARE RESOURCES?
Resources are things you own such as:
bank accounts, stocks, U.S. savings bonds;
anything else you own which could be changed to cash and used for food or shelter; and
WHAT ARE DEEMED RESOURCES?
Sometimes we “deem” a portion of the resources of a spouse, parent, parent’s spouse, sponsor of an alien or sponsor’s spouse as belonging to the person who applies for SSI. We call this process the deeming of resources. If a child under age 18 lives with one parent, $2,000 of the parent's total countable resources does not count. If the child lives with 2 parents, $3,000 does not count. We count amounts over the parents’ limits as part of the child's $2,000 resource limit.
WHY ARE RESOURCES IMPORTANT IN THE SSI PROGRAM?
The value of your resources is one of the factors that determine whether you are eligible for SSI benefits. However, not all resources count for SSI. If the value of your resources that we count is over the allowable limit at the beginning of the month, you cannot receive SSI for that month. If you decide to sell the excess resources for what they are worth, you may receive SSI beginning the month after you sell the excess resources. You may even be able to receive benefits while you try to sell the excess resources in certain situations.
See the SSI Spotlight on Getting SSI Benefits While You Try to Sell Excess Resources.
WHAT IS THE RESOURCE LIMIT?
The limit for countable resources is $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple.
WHAT RESOURCES DO NOT COUNT FOR SSI?
For SSI, we do not count:
the home you live in and the land it is on;
household goods and personal effects (e.g., your wedding and engagement rings) ;
burial spaces for you or your immediate family;
burial funds for you and your spouse, each valued at $1,500 or less (See the SSI Spotlight on Burial Funds);
life insurance policies with a combined face value of $1,500 or less;
one vehicle, regardless of value, if it is used for transportation for you or a member of your household;
retroactive SSI or Social Security benefits for up to nine months after you receive them (including payments received in installments);
grants, scholarships, fellowships, or gifts set aside to pay educational expenses for 9 months after receipt.
WHAT ARE INSTALLMENTS?
When an individual is eligible for past–due SSI benefits, Social Security must first reimburse the State if you received any monetary Interim Assistance, while you were waiting for your SSI decision. If the remaining past–due benefits are large, we must pay them in installments. The installment payments are made in no more than three payments, at six month intervals.
There is an exception that allows the amount of the first and second payment to be increased because of certain debts. There are also two exceptions that would permit payment of all unpaid benefits due an individual to be paid in one lump–sum:
if you have a medical condition that is expected to result in your death within 12 months; or
you become ineligible for SSI benefits and are likely to remain ineligible for 12 months.
WHAT OTHER RESOURCES DO NOT COUNT FOR SSI?
property essential to self–support (See the SSI Spotlight on Property You Need for Self–Support);
resources that a blind or disabled person needs for an approved plan for achieving self–support (PASS) (See the SSI Spotlight on Plans to Achieve Self–Support );
You should talk to your attorney. There are legal ways to maximize your net proceeds from the settlement and reduce any loss of SSI benefits. These are determined based on many factors specific to your situation, including your assets, and the settlement amount. There are trusts that can be created, but those might be expensive. There may be other alternatives such as to spend the money on an asset that does affect your SSI, but you may temporarily loose benefits. Each method needs to be analyzed, so your net recovery is maximized. Good luck.
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