People who cannot work because of a debilitating physical or mental condition might be eligible for monthly payments through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. For someone unfamiliar with the process, it could appear complicated and intimidating. That is, unfortunately, true. Individuals applying for benefits have many questions, including “can I own property, like a house, and collect disability?” The short answer to that question is, “it depends on the program.” Below, Ken Kieklak, a Fayetteville disability attorney with over two decades of experience handling Social Security Disability claims, looks at that answer in more detail.
What is SSDI and How Does it Impact My Property?
The SSDI benefits program is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and funded by employment tax contributions. Benefits are available to individuals who are able to demonstrate that they meet the SSA’s strict requirements. SSDI is meant for people who suffer from a physical or mental impairment that makes it impossible for them to earn a living.
There is nothing in SSA’s requirements that address a claimant’s assets or resources as the SSA defines them. Therefore, you could be eligible for SSDI benefits if you own a home, a vacation house, or any other type of valuable assets, such as a car or investment accounts. Your personal wealth or property does not impact SSDI benefits. Nonetheless, our Arkansas disability benefits attorney is available to help you understand what requirements you must meet to qualify for SSDI.
Qualifying for SSDI With Substantial Personal Assets in Arkansas
Before discussing what constitutes how the SSA defines disability, you first must have earned enough to be eligible for SSDI. As stated above, SSDI is funded through your payroll tax contributions, whether you work for someone else or are self-employed. Therefore, you must have worked long enough, and recently enough, to qualify for SSDI. Every year you work and pay taxes, you earn up to four work credits. Eligibility is based on the number of work credits you have earned. The number of credits required depends on your age but usually, you need 40 credits. Furthermore, 20 of your credits must have been earned in the 10 years before your disability made it impossible to work. Any assets you have accumulated while you were also earning work credits are not part of the equation. As long as you have earned the work credits and your medical condition qualifies as a disability under SSA’s definition, you could receive SSDI benefits.
Are Disability Benefits Available for Someone Without Social Security Work Credits and Property?
Unfortunately, not everyone with a disability has earned the appropriate number of work credits to qualify for SSDI. However, the SSA administers two disability programs. If someone is not eligible for SSDI, they could be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The disability requirement is the same for each program. However, there are significant differences when it comes to a claimant’s assets or resources.
As its name suggests, SSDI works like an insurance policy. A person pays years of premiums through their payroll taxes, so the benefits are available if they are diagnosed with a medical condition that prohibits them from working. A person’s property is not factored into the application process.
However, SSI is based on financial necessity. While it is available to disabled individuals who lack the required work requirements, its other eligibly factors center around a claimant’s resources.
Your assets and property are taken into consideration when you apply for SSI. Fortunately, some types of property are excluded from the SSA’s determination.
Excluded Property if You Apply for Disability in Arkansas
If you apply for SSI, the SSA will consider your property and assets as resources that could disqualify you from receiving benefits. While SSI is available to people with a disability, it is designed for individuals with limited income and resources.
Resources include everything from cash, bank accounts, land, personal property, homes, life insurance, and just about anything that can be converted to cash. Limited for SSI purposes means that your resources’ value totals $2,000 if you are an adult or $3,000 if you are a couple. Fortunately, the SSA excludes specific resources and assets.
Your personal property and household items are not factored into the SSA’s determination if you are eligible for SSI. For example, your furniture, kitchen appliances, or other personal items are not included. However, if any personal items are held as possible investments, such as a collection of rare baseball cards, they will be considered a resource for SSI purposes.
Life Insurance Policies
Life insurance policies are excluded if they do not have a cash-in value, such as term life insurance policies. However, universal variable life and whole life insurance policies that have a value are considered a resource if the policy exceeds $1,500. If the funds are irrevocable, they are not considered a resource, for instance, money paid to a funeral home. The crucial element is that the claimant has no control or use of the funds in question. Our Arkansas Social Security lawyer will review your insurance policies in more detail.
Homes and Cars
You can own a home and still be eligible for SSI. However, your house or land cannot be used to generate income and it must be your primary residence. Therefore, unlike SSDI, you are not permitted to own a vacation home.
The SSA will allow a claimant to exempt a vehicle if it is used to transport the claimant or their family. In situations where two cars are owned, the SSA will allow an individual to exempt the more expensive vehicle. However, a second car could disqualify you, so you should review this with a knowledgeable Arkansas disability appeals attorney.
If you have any liquid retirement funds that can be readily withdrawn, they will be counted as a resource for SSI. However, if the funds are not liquid, they will not be considered resources. What qualifies as “easily withdrawn” is not always clear. Therefore, your should review your retirement accounts with our office.
This list above is not comprehensive. Every situation is unique, so it is crucial to thoroughly review your resources with our Springdale, AR Social Security Disability attorney. Most initial claims are denied and one of the primary reasons is because the claimant has resources that disqualify them.
Contact Our Arkansas Social Security Disability Attorney to Review Your Property and Assets Before Filing a Benefit Claim
When someone requires financial assistance because they are no longer able to work, they might not be thinking about how their property will impact their eligibility for benefits. Depending upon your situation, and whether you are applying for SSDI or SSI, the value and type of your property could play a significant role. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, has been assisting individuals understand Social Security Disability benefits for over twenty years. If you have questions or need help regarding your eligibility, contact our Arkansas Social Security Disability attorney at (479) 316-0438 to schedule a free appointment.
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