Yes. If you have Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you may have a savings account. However, there might be limits on the amount you can have, depending on the type of disability benefit you are receiving.
To be eligible for SSDI, you must have a history of work and a health condition that prevents you from working for at least a year or that is expected to end in death. There are limits on how much you can earn while working while collecting SSDI payments, but no restrictions on assets. You can have a savings account with as much money as you choose to save.
This is not the case if you receive SSI, which provides cash assistance to the elderly, disabled and blind in need. The Social Security Administration (SSA), which manages the program, sets different (and considerably more complex) income limits for SSI beneficiaries, as well as a cap on financial assets: you cannot own more than 2,000 $ in what SSA considers “countable resources” as an individual or more than $ 3,000 as a couple.
Some assets are not countable, including the house you live in, a vehicle you or a member of your household use for transportation, and life insurance policy (s) with a total face value of $ 1,500 or less.
Money in a savings account, however, is an accounting resource. This means that you could be ineligible for SSI if your account contains more than $ 2,000 ($ 3,000 for a couple), or if it contains less but your total book assets, including savings, exceed these. figures.
Savings options for SSI beneficiaries
The SSA makes exceptions for certain vehicles and savings programs designed for people with disabilities and low income. By using them, some recipients may have well over $ 2,000 in savings and continue to collect SSI.
Achieve a Better Life Experience (ABLE)
ABLE accounts provide a tax-free savings option for people with disabilities diagnosed before the age of 26. The first $ 100,000 of an ABLE account is not an accounting resource for SSI. Any balance greater than $ 100,000 will be taken into account in determining whether you reach the asset limit.
You can open an account through the ABLE programs available in most states. Many allow eligible out-of-state residents to create accounts, but there may be tax advantages to using your own state’s plan. The ABLE National Resource Center allows you to compare state programs.
Plan to achieve autonomy (PASS)
It is a written plan that you submit to Social Security outlining a work-related goal that can help you become financially independent and reduce or eliminate your need for disability benefits. With a PASS, you can set aside money for items needed to achieve this goal, such as education, childcare, or assistive technology. This money is not considered an accounting resource for SSI.
To apply for a PASS, complete form SSA-545-BK and send it to your local Social Security office. The SSA can direct you to a professional advisor or PASS specialist in your area to help you draft your project. Call SSA at 800-772-1213 or see its PASS brochure for more information.
Individual Development Accounts (IDA)
IDAs allow low-income people to save money on their income for their education, the purchase of a first home, or the costs associated with starting a business.
To open an IDA, in most cases, you must be working and receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. Your contributions to the account may be matched with funds from state and federal aid programs, and none of this money is taken into account in determining your eligibility for SSI. Contact your TANF agency for more information.
Trusts are legal agreements in which one party holds and manages financial resources such as cash and property for the welfare of another. Certain types of trusts can be used to hold money without compromising your SSI benefits.
Whether this is the case will depend on the type of trust, who controls it and how its content is used. For example, money paid to you directly from a trust, or used to feed and house you, may be considered income and deducted from your SSI benefit. You can find out more in the SSA Spotlight on Trusts online article.