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Will SSI take the 25,000 PI money that I will get as a result of a car accident settlement? Can I buy a new car with the money?

Los Angeles, CA |

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...

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Resources are things you own such as:


bank accounts, stocks, U.S. savings bonds;


life insurance;

personal property;


anything else you own which could be changed to cash and used for food or shelter; and

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.


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.


The limit for countable resources is $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple.


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.


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.


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 );

The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Howard Roitman, Esq. and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.



THANK YOU!!!!!!!! A FRANK AND HONEST ANSWER! Much more in depth than, "contact my attorney' I thank you for your time sir. I maybe in touch.


You should ask this question to your attorney. Best of luck.

This answer is provided by Manuel A. Juarez, Esq., Abogado de Accidentes de Autos de California: 510-206-4492. Abogado de Accidentes de Autos provides answers of a general context. These answers are not intended to form an attorney client relationship. Abogado de Accidentes de Autos, Abogado de Lesiones Personales, Abogado de Accidentes de carros, Abogado de Peatones, practices in Antioch, Berkeley, Concord, Oakland, Hayward, Martinez, Newark, Richmond, San Francisco and San Rafael. El abogado de lesiones y heridos en accidentes de autos, is licensed only in California. This information is good only in California and it is not to be taken as legal advice on car accidents, personal injury, divorce, bankruptcy or in any other type of situation. Esta respuesta es del Abogado de Accidentes de Autos, Abogado de Lesiones Personales, Abogado de Heridos en Accidentes de carros, Manuel A. Juárez, 510-206-4492. Abogado Hispano de Accidentes, Abogado de Divorcios, Abogado Latino de Accidentes, Abogado de Accidentes de Oakland, Hayward, San Francisco, California. Estas respuesta son solo para información general y no consisten en consejo legal sobre divorcios, mantención de esposas, mantención de hijos o bancarrotas. Las respuestas son comentarios legales que no forman una relación de abogado y cliente. Manuel Juarez, Esq., esta licenciado solo en el Estado de California.


Speak to your attorney. You may need a supplemental needs trust.

Personal injury cases only; I'm good at it; you be the Judge! All information provided is for informational and educational purposes only. No attorney client relationship has been formed or should be inferred. Please speak with a local and qualified attorney. I truly wish you and those close to you all the best. Jeff



Do PI attorney's no much about supplemental needs trusts? Mine doesn't seem too. What I know about them is that they will only cover health expenses that Medicare/ Medicaide don't cover. What about having a car to get to doctor appointments, the grocery store?

Jeffrey Mark Adams

Jeffrey Mark Adams


I would retain a specialist.


A supplemental needs trust can protect personal injury awards and settlements. To be valid they must be set up correctly, reciting your circumstances and the applicable law. Speak to your attorney ASAP.

Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers, North Andover, MA & Derry, NH provide answers for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be given by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, thoroughly familiar with the area of the law in which your concern lies. This creates no attorney-client relationship.


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.

Adrienne Patricia Allen

Adrienne Patricia Allen


Sometimes the money touching your attorney's hands is tantamount to touching your hands. Definitely talk to your attorney about your questions.



I appreciate your advice, and I'm grateful for the SSI benefits I received over the years. I'm getting a hip replacement next week, and this sounds odd. But I'm grateful I havent't received my settlement yet. Otherwise, I would not have my Medicaide and have to pay for 20% of that surgery out of pocket, which is IMPOSSIBLE for me. I make under 10K a year on SSI SDI. I cannot help feel frustrated here.. In that, I am receiving this settlement money only because someone ran a red light at a high rate of speed and totaled my vehicle. I would not have retained an attorney but had to beccause the woman lied and said her light has green and that mine must have been red. I did not have full coverage for obvious financila reasons. She was found at fault. I had $30K in medical costs as a result of her negligence, and quite a lot of pain and suffering. My vehicle that I owned outright prior to the accident was totaled. Now I will be losing a portion of my sole income and some of my health insurance? Isn't the theory of the law to make someone (me) hole again? I don't feel as if I am being made whole. I feel like I am being punished for being a victim in an accident?! If I were hooked up to machines as a result of this accident, and I won a settlement my insurance and a portion of my sole income would STILL be taken from me? They would say, "oh you won your accident case now you no longer qualify for Medicaide to receive the medical care that has been keeping you alive these past 2.5 years..Anyone see my point?

Adrienne Patricia Allen

Adrienne Patricia Allen


Yes we see your point. However, you may still be able to receive the settlement monies and continue receiving your benefits if you set up the receipt of the settlement funds in a certain way, as the other responses have suggested. Talk to your attorney about how to structure the settlement.


Generally a media-care set aside or a special needs trust is created to protect your SSI interest. Such trusts are generally funded directly prior to the money reaching your hands. So,my advice is that you talk to your lawyer to discuss this with a special needs trust attorney.


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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