SSI Resources: Understanding Supplemental Security Income
January 29, 2024 · 4 min read
Why trust us?
Atticus offers free, high-quality disability advice for Americans who can't work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and have helped over 10,000 Americans apply for disability benefits.
To qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you’ll need to meet the program’s medical and technical requirements, including income and asset limits.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will review your application and add your resources and assets. To be eligible for the SSI program, your total monetary value of resources must be under $2,000, or $3,000 if you are married.
There’s a lot that goes into what the SSA considers to be a “resource.” We’ll discuss the differences between income and resources and define what the SSA considers “countable” and “deemed” resources.
What are SSI resources?
SSI resources are things you own that hold value. When applying for SSI, the Social Security Administration will review your resources to determine your SSI eligibility. The SSA will not include all your resources — only those the SSA considers “countable.” For example, the SSA will exclude items like a single car for transportation, an engagement ring, or the home where you live.
What is the SSI resource limit?
In 2024, the SSI resource limit is $2,000 for individuals or $3,000 for married couples. The income limit, on the other hand, is $943 per month. The SSI resource limit increases every year to account for inflation and cost-of-living.
In 2024, SSI recipients can receive a maximum SSI payment of $943 per month.
Has your SSI claim been rejected?
What are countable resources for SSI?
The SSA considers the following resources as “countable” toward the SSI resource limits:
Stocks, mutual funds, and U.S. savings bonds
In addition, the SSA will consider anything you own that you could convert to cash and use for food or shelter as a resource.
What are deemed resources?
Deemed resources technically belong to someone else, such as a family member. But for SSI, the SSA “deems” that a portion of those resources belongs to you, too. These additional resources might belong to your spouse, parent, parent’s spouse, sponsor of a noncitizen, or sponsor’s spouse.
The SSI application may ask about your living arrangements to determine deemed resources. For example, if an SSI applicant lives with their child under 18, $2,000 of the applicant’s resources do not count toward the SSI limit. If the child lives in the same household with two parents, $3,000 does not count toward the limit.
SSI resources vs. SSI income
For SSI, resources are items you own with value, and income can include any money you get, like wages or public benefits. According to the SSA, income includes:
Earned income: This refers to money you earn by working a job
Unearned income: Unearned income is any money you receive that is not from a job, like unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, pensions, annuities, etc.
In-kind income: This type of income includes the value of food, housing, and housing maintenance you get for free or for less than market value
Deemed income: Deemed income is earned by someone you live with
It’s also helpful to remember that resources are not technically the same as assets. Not all assets are countable, either. For example, the SSA does not consider it a resource if you don’t have an ownership interest or the legal authority to liquidate an asset.
Can I own a home on SSI?
Yes, you can be a homeowner and still qualify for SSI. When the SSA adds up the amount of your resources, they exclude the home you live in, the land it’s on, and any other buildings on that land.
Suppose you are not a homeowner but are interested in buying a home. In that case, this won’t necessarily disqualify you for SSI — but saving up for a down payment could cause you to exceed the SSI resource limit.
If you own any property you use for work, such as a building for a beauty parlor or personal property like tools, this property won’t count as a resource. The SSA considers it as property that’s essential to self-support.
Can I own a car on SSI?
Yes, you can own a car on SSI. The SSA lets you keep one drivable car. However, your household's additional vehicles will count toward your SSI resource limit.
Can I sell a resource to qualify for SSI?
Yes, you can sell a resource to meet the resource limit to qualify for SSI. However, there are rules about the transfer of resources. You cannot give the resource away. You also cannot give it to a friend or a family member for a very low price. You must try to legitimately sell the item for what it’s worth, otherwise, you could be ineligible for SSI for up to 36 months.
If you’re trying to sell a resource that puts you over the limit, you might be able to get SSI while trying to sell it. But be aware of “conditional benefits:” Once you’ve sold the resource, you’ll have to pay back the SSI benefits you received throughout the time it took you to sell.
What doesn’t count as an SSI resource?
The SSA does not consider all resources as countable. Personal assets and payments you receive outside of earned income generally do not count as resources for SSI.
The following resources do not count as part of the SSI resource limit:
ABLE accounts: Up to $100,000 in funds for Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts
Burial expenses: Up to $1,500 for you and your spouse for burial expenses and certain prepaid burial contracts
Business property: Property you or your spouse use in a trade or business, or on your job if you work for someone else
Clinical trials compensation: The first $2,000 per calendar year for participating in certain clinical trials
Crime victim assistance: Not counted for nine months
Dedicated accounts: Exemption for accounts dedicated to disabled or blind children
Disaster relief assistance: Exemption for disaster relief assistance
Earned income tax credits: Not counted for 12 months
Education funds: Grants, scholarships, fellowships, or gifts set aside for educational expenses for nine months
Federal disaster assistance: Federal disaster assistance received because of a Presidentially declared major disaster, including interest
Federal tax refunds and credits: No counting of federal tax refunds and advanced tax credits received from January 1st, 2010, for 12 months
Health care savings account: Health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs)
Home energy assistance: Support and maintenance assistance and home energy assistance
Home sale funds: Money from the sale of a home, if quickly reinvested in a replacement home
Housewares: Household goods and personal effects
Incentive payments: Cash received for medical or social services
Individual development account (IDA) savings: Money saved in an Individual Development Account
Life insurance policies: Exemption for policies with a combined face value of $1,500 or less
Lost, damaged, or stolen resources: Cash or in-kind replacements for lost, damaged, or stolen resources are not counted for nine months
Medical and social services cash: Funds received for medical or social services
PASS and ABLE accounts: If you’re disabled or blind, money or property you’ve set aside under a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) and up to $100,000 of funds in an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account established through a State ABLE program
Primary residence: The home you live in, the land it’s on, and any other buildings on that land
Real property: Jointly-owned real property that can’t be sold without undue hardship
Relocation costs: State or local relocation assistance payments are not counted for 12 months
Restitution payments: Many types of restitution payments, including those for misused Title II, Title VIII, and Title XVI benefits; German reparations payments made to World War II Holocaust survivors; and Radiation Exposure Compensation Trust Fund payments
Retroactive benefits: Retroactive SSI or Social Security benefits for up to nine months after you receive them (including payments received in installments)
Retained retroactive benefits: Retained retroactive SSI or RSDI benefits
Trust fund payments: Native American trust fund payments for federally recognized tribes
Vehicle exemption: One vehicle, if you or a member of your household use it for transportation
For a complete list of the resources the SSA does not count toward the SSI limit, review SSA.gov.
How to calculate SSI eligibility
To see if you meet the SSI resource limit, you can calculate your income and resources to gauge where you fall. Remember, the current resource limit is $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for married couples, while the current income limit is about $943 monthly.
But working out the numbers on your own can get tricky fast. There are many SSI rules about income and resources, including which resources, income, and assets are countable or deemed. Often, it’s easier just to let the SSA do the calculation. You should go ahead and apply for SSI if you think you’re under or close to the resource limit.
Frequently asked questions about SSI income
What is the income limit to receive SSI?
To qualify for SSI in 2024, your income must be about $1,000 or less. Your total assets must be worth less than $2,000 if you’re single ($3,000 if married). Learn more about SSI eligibility rules.
Does SSI count food stamps as income?
No, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits do not count as income for SSI. If you receive SNAP benefits, your SSI benefits will not be reduced.
Does VA disability count as income for SSI?
Yes, VA disability benefits do count as income for SSI and will decrease your SSI payments. SSDI and state disability benefits are also income for SSI.
Will SSI count Section 8 housing as income?
Section 8 housing does not count as income for SSI. However, living with someone who pays all the bills and lives in Section 8 housing could affect your SSI benefit.
Are there any SSI unearned income exclusions?
The SSA excludes $20 of general income from your countable income, which could include unearned income. There aren’t any other income exclusions specifically for unearned income.
At the bottom of many websites, you'll find a small disclaimer: "We are not a law firm and are not qualified to give legal advice." If you see this, run the other way. These people can't help you: they're prohibited by law from giving meaningful advice, recommending specific lawyers, or even telling you whether you need a lawyer at all.
There’s no disclaimer here: Atticus is a law firm, and we are qualified to give legal advice. We can answer your most pressing questions, make clear recommendations, and search far and wide to find the right lawyer for you.
Two important things to note: If we give you legal advice, it will be through a lawyer on our staff communicating with you directly. (Don't make important decisions about your case based solely on this or any other website.) And if we take you on as a client, it will be through a document you sign. (No attorney-client relationship arises from using this site or calling us.)