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When SSI resources are counted, will burial funds be considered?

When seeking Supplemental Security Income (SSI), New Jersey residents will undoubtedly be aware of the limitations on resources they can have if they are going to be approved. This, combined with the basic requirements of being blind, disabled and 65 or older is key to a case. However, there are some resources that might fall into a gray area as to whether the person can keep them. For many resources, they must be sold. With a burial fund, that is not the case if the circumstances warrant its retention.

An SSI applicant can put as much as $1,500 aside for him or herself and a spouse, and it will be excluded from resources in the following situations: it has been designated as a burial fund. And, the fund has not been combined with assets that are non-burial.

Part of this rule can be used for an ineligible parent, parents or stepparent for an eligible child. Included in burial funds are financial accounts, cash, burial arrangements, burial trusts or revocable contracts for burial.

The exclusion will be reduced by the Social Security Administration when an insurance policy the person owns for cash surrender value is excluded. And, if there is an amount that is in an irrevocable burial trust or other situation that meets the burial costs.

Should interest be earned on these excluded funds and there is an appreciation in its value, it will not be considered resources or income if they are left in the burial fund. The SSI recipient cannot use the burial funds -- except for interest or appreciation -- for other reasons except for a burial. If this happens, the SSI payment could be withheld for up to what was spent.

Resources and clearing them is a key factor in getting SSI benefits. With resources like burial funds, it is not as clear that they need to be sold. In the above situations, they can be retained. Understanding when the burial funds and other resources could impact SSI benefits or result in denied SSI claims is critical to a case. A law firm that specializes in Supplemental Security Income can explain these issues and anything else related to SSI.

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