The SSI dilemma


Former desparate mom
I always understood that difficult child couldn't have assets more than 2000.00/month without losing his benefits. OK, so the amount he is given will not support him or anyone else.
We figured we would help a couple of months while he gets a part time job.

I can not help him without his amount reduced.Doesn't matter a whit if he has no assets or does not work. I can't help him without penalizing him.

OK, so difficult child will work. Well, that goes against him. Every 2 dollars he earns, his amount reduced a dollar.
If he no longer gets SSI, he loses his medicaid. Where is he going to get medical coverage?

I mistakenly thought that as long as his monthly income was less than the 2000.00 he could keep going. (difficult child isn't every going to make that much).

What's with me not being allowed to give him something extra?
So it's a dilemma. The rules are such to prevent abuse of the system. Why would one be penalized if someone is helping you out privately if it does not exceed the 2000.00 amt.
I have to call and understand this clearer. As you can see it's as clear as mud already.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Wow, Fran. That is confusing. I hope you can get them to explain it more clearly.



Well-Known Member
We had this dilemma with husband's mother. She is also on a disability SSI. We were told by the eldercare person from the county that since it is income based, her good for nothing grandaughter who is living with her for nothing could pay the taxes and utilities and it wouldn't affect her SSI at all. So long as no money was actually changing hands. So, we were told that we could bring her food, pay her electric bill, pay the phone bill, get her a bus pass, anything like that and it wouldn't affect her at all.

It sounds correct. Considering that your son gets the same no matter where he is living, you should be able to help with living expenses and not affect his SSI.


Well-Known Member
Find out if it makes a difference if you pay the vender/creditor directly instead of giving difficult child the money to pay it. Such pay the electric bill by check instead of giving difficult child 200 bucks to go pay his electric bill.


New Member
It does suck - I have a brother on SSI and he can't earn anything or it drops his amount - he can't live on what it is! so my Mom has to help out which puts a strain on her.

How do they know if you give him cash???


been there done that. First I think you have to differentiate income and assets. Income is what you make from a job or an investment. Assets is what you own, what you have in the bank, the value of your car, your home, etc.

Assets cannot be over $2,000 with certain items not counting into the $2,000. That's on any one day it can't be more than $2,000. However, when I put the check for the equity in my old house into the bank and then took it out a week later to buy this condo they didn't punish me as I expected. So I agree there's some kind of line but it's a line in the sand as far as I'm concerned.

Income, wages, interest, dividends, etc is a whole other story. They divide it into 2 kinds of income, earned and unearned. So the interest, dividends and gifts fall into the second category. His job income falls into the first category. There are different limits on each category. The limit is higher on earnings because they want to encourage people to work and get off "Federal welfare". The unearned category has a much lower limit. They don't want to penalize you for getting BD gifts but if you're getting gifts from family they figure let the family support you instead of the gov't.

The other thing you don't mention is how it works in the real world. The checks and Medicaid continue regularly. He has an obligation to report any income or assets within 10 days of receiving them. If you know there will be consistent income they will set up your check so that you're getting a lower amt. If you don't tell them (illegal as it is), they can only change the numbers retroactively. So when/if they send you the annual letter or call you in with all your records, you tell them about the income. They'll then put it through the computer and tell you how much you've been "overpaid". Obviously no one has the money to fork over immediately so they start taking it out of future checks. BUT, the law says they can only take back overpayments monthly up to 10% of your check. So your check is effectively reduced. And if you owe them a lot of money it will be the 90% number for a very, very long time. Medicaid is not affected by any of this.

I'm not going to go into the multiple persons in the house rules. But I can tell you definitively that you cannot pay a SSI person's bills. That is, the suggestion above that you pay his utilities, debts, etc is NOT a good one. You can pay them but it counts as gifts. Perhaps the SSA told someone it was OK to do that on the basis that the amt of the utilities is under the gift amount. And the SSA certainly doesn't want to deal with every $50 gift unless the total of gifts from all people gets into a higher number. I'd also caution that you not take advice on anything technical, including from the 800 number or the receptionist at the SSA front desk. You need to ask these questions of an examiner and even then I've gotten some different answers from different examiners. But those discrepancies were in far more complex areas that being discussed here.



Former desparate mom
I think I may be able to pay the vendor. Of course, how does this go towards independence if the electric bill is coming to me? I have to double check.

I think I can gift him things but I'm not clear on the rules about this and don't want to risk jeopardizing his current support system. Of course, I won't do anything illegal. I just trying to understand how to live with this system.

I need someone who has been through the system to mentor me. It is very convoluted.

I have already had some stumbles with me telling them stuff that is better left unsaid. Duh, me. I'm just answering questions.


I'm confused by what someone calls "disability SSI". Is that the income/asset based SSI we're talking about here or is that disability based on prior work history aka SSDI. Re SSDI there is no income/ asset limit so there would be no problem with a gift or any other income/ asset. The amount on that can be low if the person's work history and earnings were not significant. But if it were lower than SSI they would flip from SSDI to SSI. Obviously if ss retirement income were higher they'd be switched to that at an appropriate age. Then, of course, the Medicaid would change to medicare.


New Member
Fran I am pretty sure you can gift him things. I would buy gift certificates for the grocery store, phone cards, clothing, and alike. -RM


I forgot the Medicaid question. The answer to that varies by state. I don't know what it is for Texas but I'll look it up.


Here's the answer to where he gets mental health, housing, etc services if he's off medicaid. They talk about a sliding scale but it's hard to imagine it could be much on a minimal income. Might be something like $5 per visit. These people would also help him get his medications.... either samples or with the pharma company programs. Still looking for reg medication services.

This is the general concept re where he goes for regular medical care. You'd have to look at the income limit in the particular county. The 21% they suggest here is absurd, I suspect every county has a higher number. The point is to get the hospital/ clinic that would be in his area. They'll have some sort of indigent/ charity care program where there will be a sliding scale and they'll provide EVERY kind of care.


member since 1999
Fran - it might be time to look into setting up a special needs trust now. My understanding is that financial gifts count - income and assets are income and assets, no matter who from or how. However, the SNT has wording that specifies that funds in the trust may only be used after all state/federal funding has been exhausted. Much as I dislike having to use attorneys, this trust needs to be set up by an attorney who has a *lot* of experience with- SNTs or else it's pointless. It is a way to make sure our kids with- disabilities are not forced to do without just to maintain state/federal benefits.

While we don't have an "estate" at this point (more like just a lot of debt, LOL), we do have life insurance and our wills do specify that for Boo, his fourth will be put in a SNT, with my bro (for now) the executor of the trust. Hopefully husband and I will live long enough and Diva and Wee will be responsible enough that we can make them executors. We're still on the fence about thank you, but suspect that he also will have to have an SNT.

The trust can be set up at any time.


Former desparate mom
If I give him some of my used furniture does that work against him? Maybe he can pay me for it. :rofl:


Former desparate mom
Thanks to all of your suggestions and the information.

OTE sent me this. Thanks. I feel better having this in black and white. Slsh, we are going to do a SNT but like the SSI, I keep hoping difficult child won't need it. This will be for later in our life.

Resources (things owned)

For a person to get SSI, the resources, or things a person owns, must be worth no more than $2,000; a couple’s resources can be worth up to $3,000.

The higher limit applies to a couple even if only one member can get SSI. The couple’s resources are counted as if both members were eligible.

If an eligible couple separates, each person will be treated as an individual starting with the first month after they separate.

If an unmarried child under age 18 is living at home and the parents’ resources exceed $3,000 ($2,000 if only one parent), the excess may be considered the child’s.

Money, whether in cash or an account, is considered a resource in the month after it is received, in most cases. Sometimes money does not count as a resource for a limited period of time but then becomes a countable resource if it is not spent within the given time limit.

In some cases, a person may receive money that does not count as income when received but does count as a resource after received. The next section gives some examples.
What resources do not count?

We do not count everything a person owns when we decide whether a person can get SSI. We do not count the following:

* A home (and adjacent land) where a person lives;
* Personal effects or household goods with a total value of $2,000 or less. If the total value is more than $2,000, the amount over $2,000 counts. The value is what an item can be sold for, less the amount of any legal debt against it;
* One car, usually;
* Life insurance policies with a total face value of $1,500 or less per person;
* Burial plots or spaces for a person and immediate family;
* Burial funds of up to $1,500 per person for a person and spouse if specifically set aside for burial. This amount will be reduced by the amount of any life insurance policy;
* Property needed for a person’s self-support. This includes property used in a trade or business or by the individual as an employee, nonbusiness income-producing property and property used to produce essential goods and services (like rental property or land used to produce food for home consumption);
* Things that a person who is blind or disabled needs for an approved “plan for achieving self-support;”
* Disaster assistance and certain native corporation stocks held by natives of Alaska;
* Any retroactive SSI payments or retroactive Social Security payments are not counted as resources for nine months after they are received. This gives time to make purchases or payments on debts that went unpaid while waiting for the back payments. Any retroactive payments left over after nine months will count as a resource;
* Crime victims’ compensation payments for nine months after they are received;
* Grants, scholarships, fellowships and gifts for tuition and fees paid for education expenses for nine months after the month they are received;
* State and local government relocation assistance for nine months after it is received; and
* Earned income tax credits for nine months following the month they are received.

Other rules about resources

A person who owns more than is allowed because of property that cannot be sold quickly may still be able to get SSI payments by signing an agreement to sell the excess resources.

If a person gives away or sells a resource for less than it is worth, there may be a period of ineligibility for SSI. The gift or sale also may make him or her ineligible for Medicaid coverage of nursing home services.


Well-Known Member
The more dealings with "the system" one has...the less
confident in our leadership one becomes! DDD


I thought about the car. Also searched my memory for my discussions with examiners about the car. You can provide a car for him. He also can own one car himself. I know there's a limit on the value of the car for one program or another but I don't find anything in SSI rules that talk about value of the car. So as long as it's used by him for work or medication appts it won't count against him... for SSI purposes anyway. If he's going to apply for something outside of SSI and SSI related medicaid you might have to check whether the car counts.

This is a much more user friendly explanation of the basic SSI rules. It refers specifically to utilities and says that you can't pay them without it counting against your son.

I've also now spent all kinds of time looking for charts of how much income/ gifts he can have and just realized that what I'm thinking of applies only to kids, not to over 18. I'm thinking of the deeming rules.. and I've only ever found charts for a couple of states but it doesn't apply here anyway! DUH!

Marcie Mac

Just Plain Ole Tired
Ahh Fran welcome to the World of Disability Money....Poor SO-one year his dad gave him a 10.00 check for his birthday, and the State found out about it and deducted it from his next check. He can't own anything really = his worldly goods never can exceed 2,000. He was a co signer in case of emergency for ME on my checking account - he never took any money out or put any money in, but he was denied because my money was in there and he had access to it - everything was ok again once he had his own checking account which the state checks on a regular basis. If there is one dime extra in there, they wanna know about it. If he lived here for free, he was going to be getting less money, so I turned from girlfriend to landlord in one fell swoop. I don't know how in the heck they expect people to live on like 650.00 a month, but they do. He can get food stamps though - but I had to sign more papers I wasn't feeding him. I do know that one of Dannys friends is on disability, and IS allowed to work but can't exceed some X amount - I have a feeling it is some kind of partial disability - I will ask him next time I see him but Ca. is such a weird state when it comes to benefits.

SO gets a letter on a timely basis from disability wanting to know if he is able to work, and he has to go in and have their doctors check to make sure he is still disabled, has to bring his bank statements, etc. And they keep trying to push him into finding a job, which would last only as long as it took him to have an attack, then he would be out of work and we would have to do that whole song and dance over and over and over again. If he didn't need the Medi-cal so bad, I would give them the proverbial finger - but you cant get the medical unless you are disabled.

The whole system irks me to no end. I think on the norm people would rather work than be disabled and have to barely survive. Didn't mean to turn this into a rant on your thread, but jeeze, it just should not be so difficult and confusing.



Well-Known Member
It is confusing, stupid, irritating, slow and intended to make you not be on the darn programs. Im still in the applying and being denied stages and I am "borrowing" every month from SO and my boys to keep food in my belly and medications in me. Its a ridiculous situation they put us in to try and get the help we paid for while working.


Active Member
Oh Fran! How in the world do kids without a mom like you (who is literate, intelligent, and who cares) make it through this? :confused:

I have a friend who is currently checking out disability that is set up through her employer due to a chronic illness. The more I hear the more disgusted I become because clearly it doesn't "encourage" anyone who is able to get back to work--I suspect what it does is encourage them to CHEAT! They don't have the restrictions on what you can own but the one restriction they do have is that while you can work a small specific amount to supplement that income it cannot be anything related to your field. She's a teacher and cannot handle a classroom full of junior high kids but she'd make a darn good math tutor but instead of being able to do a variation on what she's good at and pays well and could make up that amount doing something she is skilled at her option is to take something that would take more hours to accumulate the same amount of money and that she's totally overqualified for and makes her feel useless. It's a thoroughly impossible situation...


New Member
Hi Fran:

I think any help you or anyone gives difficult child is considered "income". It's a catch-22. Where is difficult child living while trying to get SSI? We had the same problem with DSS when my ex was out on comp. Because my parents were helping they considered that income. Without their help we would have been evicted. It seems you can't win. My mom put money in an account under her name and gave me the debit card to use. Unfortunatly you can't tell them you are helping, even with 1 dollar.....sigh. but that doesn't mean you can't help. The system is backwards and totally unrealistic.
I wish you luck with this one. Have you gotten any legal advice? I know sometimes a P-doctor or Attny can help expedite the process.
Best wishes for all concerned.