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Law re receiving an inheritance while on permanent soc. security disability

Santa Fe, NM |

Would like to include niece in my will but not harm her status as disability recipient.

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Attorney answers 3

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To clarify Mr. Farrell's good answer, SSI is a means-tested welfare program where benefit eligibility can be eliminated by receipt of an inheritance. SSDI is an insurance program which is not affected by one's other financial fortunes. These programs are commonly confused (even by attorneys who should know better) because both serve the same groups of beneficiaries, medical requirements are identical, and both are managed by the Social Security Administration.

In the event that your niece is an SSI beneficiary, you can protect her right to continue to receive those benefits by imposing on her inheritance a kind of trust sometimes called a "special-needs" or "public-benefits" trust. Any adept estate planning or elder law attorney will be familiar with this device.

Best wishes for a favorable outcome, and please remember to designate a best answer.

This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.


If your neice gets SSI - Supplemental Security Income - then any money she gets could reduce or eliminate her eligibility, as SSI is based on need. It depends on how much money is onvolved - below $2000 will have the least impact.

If she gets SSDI - Social Security disability income benefits, it will have no effect all on her benefits. SSDI is based on taxes a person paid when they were working, so you can be a millionaire or win the lottery and still get SSDI because it is money based on the taxes the disabaled person paid.

Hope that helps! Best of luck to you.

The exact answers to questions like this require more information than presented. The answer(s) provided should be considered general information. The information provided by this is general advice, and is not legal advice. Viewing this information is not intended to create, and does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. It is intended to educate the reader and a more definite answer should be based on a consultation with a lawyer. You should not take any action that might affect your claim without first seeking the professional opinion of an attorney. You should consult an attorney who can can ask all the appropriate questions and give legal advice based on the exact facts of your situation. The general information provided here does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Attorney's Sinclair and Farrel are correct as to the main consideration is the type of disability you are drawing.

If you are on SSI then you may be able to place the funds in a spend down trust in order to maintain your benefits. Seek the help of a NM trust attorney to help you with this issue.

Finding a lawyer is not that hard. You can search for a Trust attorney on this site. Just click on the Find A Lawyer tab, put Trusts as your search term and enter the name of your city.

Look through the attorneys to make your choice. You may want to see what questions they answered (at the bottom of each profile) so that you can get a feel for one you would feel most comfortable in dealing with. Attorneys are people and come in all styles. The way they answer questions can give you a peek into the way they will likely deal with you.

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