People thinking about applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) often wonder whether they can own a home and still be approved for disability benefits.
The short answer is that owning a home usually does not affect your eligibility for either SSD or SSI. However, there are important differences between the two programs that could be affected by home ownership.
SSD and Home Ownership
Social Security Disability is an insurance program that workers contribute to with each paycheck. The insurance is supposed to provide modest income replacement if you become unable to work because of a disability. Owning your home or even having a second home or rental income from an apartment building will not affect your eligibility for SSD. When the Social Security Administration reviews your claim, it is looking at your ability to work and how long you worked in a position covered by Social Security.
SSI and Home Ownership
In contrast, SSI is a need-based program. Accordingly, resources and assets such as real estate or an inheritance could count toward the assets the SSI program allows you to keep. However, some resources do not count toward the allowable amount. For example, if you own a home and live in it, the home will not usually be included in the calculation of your assets. Each state has different allowances, so determining precisely the amount one can keep and still receive SSI depends on where you live.
In addition, SSI does not count the land where the home is located as an asset. Other assets usually not counted include household goods, personal property such as a car, and life insurance and burial funds up to certain amounts. However, Social Security does count assets such as cash, rental income, savings accounts, CDs and investment accounts. It also counts any residual back benefits left nine months after receiving them.
Contact Our Advocates to Learn More
The information above covers only the basics of owning a home and other assets while applying for or receiving disability benefits. If you have been told that you are ineligible for benefits because of the assets you own, you may wish to talk with an advocate at Binder & Binder®, America's most successful Social Security Disability advocates. We handle claims and appeals for both programs and invite you to call us.