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Home ownership and SSI benefits

Supplemental Security Income benefits were implemented to help those who are disabled, elderly or blind and do not have sufficient income and resources. Some Pennsylvania residents may worry that their home will automatically disqualify them for aid, but the Social Security Administration says that is not the case.

When considering a person's resources, the Social Security Administration does not count the house that the applicant resides in when considering SSI claims. Any money that a person can use for support is considered a resource. A person's resource as a single cannot exceed $2,000, while a married couple's resources cannot exceed $3,000. When tallying resources, SSA counts cash, bank accounts, real estate, personal possessions, stocks and bonds.

Some things, like a person's home, do not count toward the resource total. That land that the applicant's home is on does not count toward the resource limit. Personal effects, like clothing and furniture, do not count. Household goods, such as groceries, also do not count. If the applicant has a life insurance policy, it also may not count toward the resource limit. A person's car usually does not count, either. Auxiliary vehicles, like boats, are counted.

Property that the applicant does not live on is counted, but burial plots for the person and their direct family do not count. $1,500 for the burial of the applicant and/or their spouse may not count. If the person is disabled or blind, some items used for work may not count.

If a person is thinking about applying for Supplemental Security Income benefits but is unsure whether or not they have too many resources, SSA has useful information available on their website. There is also a hotline to call for any questions an individual has that may not be present on the site.

Source: St. Augustine Record, "Senior Life-Social Security," Jan. 13, 2012

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