When you apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the Social Security Administration immediately adds up your total countable assets. This is often called an asset test. The agency is simply making sure you don’t exceed the low maximum SSI asset limit required to qualify for benefits.
If you want to better understand what things count towards this SSI asset limit, we’ll explain it all below.
What Is the SSI Asset Limit for Individuals vs. Couples?
That limit is $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a married couple. If that seems unfair to married couples, that perception isn’t wrong. For two individuals, their cap is $2,000 each, or $4,000 total. But when those two individuals happen to be married, then their SSI asset limit is $3,000, which is 25% less.
And if these numbers seem low and a bit outdated to you, you’re not alone. Statistics show that this asset limit has not kept up with inflation since it was put into place back in 1972. In fact, the current SSI asset limit is worth less than one-fifth of its original value.
Things That Will Count Towards Your SSI Asset Limit
Even though there’s a dollar amount for this cap, what’s less clear is what counts toward that SSI asset limit.
Basically, the SSA is looking for two things when they review your SSI claim under the program’s financial eligibility rules:
- How much money you have (this can also include other people’s income who live in your same home).
- What things you own you can also easily sell in exchange for cash, including how much.
What’s more, you must report any changes in household income or available resources by the 10th day of each month.
Sound confusing? It can be. To make it easier, here are some examples of resources the SSA WILL count towards your monthly SSI asset limit:
- Cash as well as any bank account balances
- Life insurance policies worth more than $1,500 in face value
- Stocks, mutual funds, and savings bonds
- Land, unless it’s the land your home sits on and you own it
- Personal property (i.e., appliances, furniture, jewelry, musical instruments)
- Vehicles, if you own more than one (i.e., boats, motorcycles, cars, RVs, snowmobiles)
- Anything else you can sell to pay for food or shelter
- Deemed resources
Things the SSA Won’t Count as Assets When You Apply for SSI
So, what items don’t count towards your SSI asset limit when you apply for those benefits?
A few examples of resources that won’t count towards your SSI asset limit include:
- One vehicle for your entire household’s use, regardless of its estimated value
- Your personal items and goods, such as your wedding ring, clothing, etc.
- Life insurance policies and burial funds for both you and your spouse worth up to $1,500
- Your home (if you own it) and the land it sits on
- Home energy assistance, or payments for support and maintenance from federal or state programs
- Educational grants, scholarships, fellowships, or cash gifts made to pay for school expenses for up to 9 months after receipt
- Flexible Spending Account (FSA) card balances for health insurance programs
- Cash you get from local, state, or federal governments to pay for medical or social services for the first 30 days after receipt
- ABLE account savings
SSI Program Income Limits: What Does or Doesn’t Count?
In addition to SSI asset limits, you also need very low or no monthly income to qualify for these benefits. In 2024, your combined household income must stay below $1,600 per month to qualify for SSI.
Types of income the SSA won’t count towards your monthly limit for SSI benefits are as follows:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) payments
- State-provided supplemental benefits
- Section 8 housing vouchers
- Home energy assistance funds
- IRS income tax refunds
- Money someone else pays towards your personal bills, as long as they’re not food or shelter expenses (i.e., your internet or phone bill)
Here are some surprising things that do count towards your monthly SSI income limit:
- VA benefits for veterans
- Workers’ compensation benefits
- Your spouse or roommate’s income, except for the first $65 they earn from working
- Cash gifts from friends or relatives
- Lottery ticket winnings
- Free rent or food you get from your church, local non-profit agencies, a relative, or friend
ABLE Accounts Can Help Children on SSI Grow Their Savings
An ABLE account is a tax-advantaged savings plan only available to someone blind or who became eligible for SSI payments based on disability before their 26th birthday. Unlike older applicants, the SSA excludes your first $100,000 of ABLE account savings from their SSI asset limit requirements.
This larger allowable ABLE account balance means that younger individuals might have more money to save or invest long-term. After all, someone who has $2,000 or less to live on each month likely can’t save or invest much money. In fact, studies show that without SSI assistance, 37.7% of older adults live below the poverty line. Even on SSI benefits, 10.3% still live below it.
Bipartisan calls to increase the SSI asset limit would allow more people to access these benefits. It might also reduce the burden on SSA staff to continually audit resources and adjust payments for monthly fluctuations. Adjusting these limits to keep up with current economic conditions might make more people that depend on SSI self-sufficient financially.
Get Free Expert Help Qualifying for Monthly Benefits
Click the button below to start your free online benefits quiz now and see if you may qualify:
Lisa Allen is a writer and editor who lives in suburban Kansas City. She holds MFAs in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, both from the Solstice Low-Residency Program in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College. Prior to becoming a writer, Lisa worked as a paralegal, where she specialized in real estate in and around Chicago.