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How Resources Affect SSI Eligibility

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Supplemental Security Income or SSI is a means-tested program intended for aged, blind or disabled people who have little income and few resources. Because of this, income and resources affect whether individuals are eligible, and income affects how much in SSI payment eligible individuals are due. The basic definitions of income and resources applicable to the SSI program are:

Income is defined as any item an individual receives in cash or in-kind that can be used to meet his or her need for food or shelter. Income an eligible individual receives is counted for SSI purposes in the actual calendar month it is received.

Resources are defined as cash and any other personal property, including any real property,
that an individual (or spouse, if any):
• owns;
• has the right, authority, or power to convert to cash (if not already cash); and
• is not legally restricted from using for his/her support and maintenance.

SSI eligibility with respect to resources is a determination made as of the first moment of each calendar month and applies to the entire month. Subsequent changes in resources within the month have no effect until the following month's resources determination. In the SSI program, resources eligibility (or ineligibility) exists for an entire month at a time. If countable resources do not exceed the statutory limit, they have no effect on the amount of an individual’s SSI payment. If countable resources do exceed the limit, an individual (or couple) is not eligible for an SSI payment.

Some items may count as both income and resources. For example, someone who wins the lottery would have income the month the cash payoff is received. If the individual retains the on the first day of the next month, the lottery winnings would then be considered a countable resource for that month and for any additional months that the funds are retained.