What are the rules for having bank accounts and getting SSI?

by Aug 8, 2016

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People who are seeking or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits must remember that there are various requirements. Many in the U.S. are not aware of the rules when it comes to financial institutions and accounts therein. That includes checking accounts, saving accounts, certificate of deposit, money market accounts, credit union and Christmas club. These accounts can be held jointly or individually.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will examine the account when determining who has access to it. It is important to know what the difference is between a joint and an individual account. A joint account has more than the one person’s name on it and everyone who is listed can withdraw money from it. With an individual account, it will be in a single person’s name and only that individual is able to make withdrawals on it.

People might ask whether they are able to receive SSI benefits under the Social Security Disability (SSD) program if they have a joint account. They can, but the money that is in the account will be considered to belong to the applicant, even if the applicant does not think that the money is his or hers.

When receiving SSI and maintaining a joint account with a person who does not receive SSI benefits, all the money will be considered as belonging to the SSI recipient. If the joint account holder does receive SSI, then it will be assumed that both parties own the money equally, unless it is shown to be otherwise. It is possible to make a rebuttal to show the SSA that the money does not belong to the recipient all or in part.

In some instances, a person might have money in an individual account, but holding it for someone else. The SSA will view that money as belonging to the person receiving benefits. If the benefits are being received for someone else as a representative payee or money is being held as a trustee, the account must be titled to indicate this.

With SSI benefits, it is imperative that those applying for or receiving it know that it can be affected by bank accounts. If there is an issue with these benefits due to bank accounts or any confusion regarding this, it is wise to discuss the matter with a legal professional experienced in the rules for SSI.

Source: SSA.gov, “Spotlight On Financial Institution Accounts — 2016 Edition,” accessed on July 11, 2016