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How do financial institution accounts affect my SSI benefits?

New Jersey residents who are eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income must follow certain requirements to retain them. The basics are relatively easy to remember, such as the person must be blind, be age 65 or older, or be disabled, and must have an income below a certain level and have limited resources. However, those who have resources should be aware of how this can affect their SSI-related benefits. That includes money in financial institutions. The Social Security Administration will look at the account and use it to determine if it will influence the person's eligibility to receive SSI.

Financial institutions can fall into numerous categories. They can be a checking account, a savings account, money in a credit union, money market accounts and more. It can be an individual or a joint account. Distinguishing between individual and joint accounts is important. The individual account will have a single person's name on it and, in general, only that person can withdraw from it. A joint account will have more than one person's name on it and all who are named can withdraw from it.

The SSA allows people who are getting SSI to be named on a joint account and get SSI. It is important to remember that the money in the account will be viewed as belonging to the person getting SSI even if that person does not view that money as belonging to them. If the person is getting SSI and has a joint account with a person who is not getting SSI, all the money in the account is viewed as belonging to the person who is getting SSI. If both people named on the account are getting SSI, the SSA will perceive the money as belonging to both equally unless evidence is shown to the contrary. This is referred to as rebuttal.

Often, a person who is receiving SSI might keep money belonging to another person in their account. It will be viewed as belonging to the person whose name is on the account. In situations with a representative payee or a trustee, the account must be titled to indicate this so the SSA knows and steps can be taken so it will not affect SSI.

SSI benefits and the requirements can occasionally be confusing and complicated. People who are otherwise eligible to receive SSI-related benefits can lose their eligibility based on financial accounts even if the money in the account is not theirs. To avoid any problems with financial accounts and SSI, having legal help is crucial. A lawyer who understands all the details about Supplemental Security Income can help.

Source: ssa.gov, "Spotlight On Financial Institution Accounts -- 2017 Edition," accessed on Dec. 26, 2017

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