How to Apply for SSI Without Falling into Quicksand

Artwork: Robin Mead

If you are applying for SSI there are a few policies they won’t tell you, even though you really need to know them:

🐳 These policies are for SSI only. Nothing here matters for SSDI.


🐳 If you are receiving a free or discounted place to live or if someone is giving you money for rent or mortgage or food, please read this very important article and this very helpful sample agreement and also this page about rent.

🐳 If someone is giving you money, it is important to document if this is a gift or a loan. Social Security will lower your SSI for gifts, but not for loans. Whatever your arrangement is, put it in writing and sign it and date it as soon as possible. The date on the agreement is important.

🐳 If you are in school, student loans will have no effect on your SSI, no matter how you spend them. Student grants may or may not have an effect. If they are spent only on “educational expenses” there is no effect.

🐳 If you are married. When deciding if you are eligible, they will count the income and assets for your spouse. For some people, this means their check will be very low or they will not qualify at all.

🐳 If you are living with someone. They will not count the income from your boyfriend or girlfriend, unless….Β  you are living together and Social Security decides your arrangement is more like a marriage. This does not happen often, but does come up for some people. For some people, this means their check will be very low or they will not qualify at all.

🐳 If your children have savings, it is easiest if you do not put your name on a bank account that belongs to your children, even as a custodian. Your spouse should not do this either. If there is a way to list your name that makes it clear you have no ownership of the funds, that may be allowable.

🐳 There is an asset limit of $2,000 ($3,000 for married couples). You are allowed to spend your money, but you are not allowed to give your money away. One car and one house do not count, as long as you live there. (If you are married, still just one car total!)

🐳 At some point you will be contacted for an SSI financial interview. This may also be called PERC. Here’s How to Handle an SSI Interview

🐳 Before you spend a lot of time reading SSI policies, I should let you know that these policies may be very important or they may be totally meaningless. If you are only applying for SSI then they are very important! If you are applying for both SSI and SSDI, it depends if you think you will be getting ongoing SSI payments. Here’s how to tell: How Important is it that I Read All These SSI Rules?

🐳 Some people wind up losing their SSI checks, or getting a very low check, or owing money back, or not getting any backpay, because they don’t know the rules. Sometime when you have a chance, you may wish to read the rules so you don’t have this problem: How to Stay Out of Hot Water with SSI

🐳 Also helpful (I hope): How to Survive Financially While Applying

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