Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Accounts Not Counted As Resources Page: 3 of 6
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Not all resources are counted for the purposes of determining SSI eligibility. The
Social Security Act and federal regulations provide various types of resource exclusions
that allow individuals or couples to own certain assets and not have them counted against
their $2,000 or $3,000 resource limit.8 In addition, the laws governing several federal
benefit programs, including the Food Stamp program, prohibit the Social Security
Administration (SSA) from counting benefits paid under these programs as resources
when determining SSI eligibility.9 The following section of this report will detail the four
types of accounts that a person or couple may have money in and not have that money
counted as a resource for the purposes of determining their SSI eligibility.
Money set aside by an SSI recipient to pay for his or her burial expenses can be
excluded from the SSI resource limits. Each person may set aside up to $1,500 for burial
expenses and these expenses must be separately identifiable from other assets and money
held. A burial plot owned by an individual or a couple is not considered a resource and
its value is not counted against the $2,000 or $3,000 resource limit.
There are two cases in which the amount of the burial expense exclusion may be
reduced. First, the total amount permitted to be excluded is reduced by the face value of
all life insurance policies held by the individual or his or her spouse. The face value of
a policy is the amount the insurer agrees to pay the beneficiary upon the death of the
insured. Second, the excluded amount of burial expenses is reduced by the total amount
of money held in an irrevocable trust (commonly called an irrevocable burial trust)
available to meet the burial expenses of the individual or his or her spouse.
Special Rules for Trusts. Under the provisions of the Foster Care Independence
Act of 1999, P.L. 106-169, the corpus, or total value, of any trust established by an
individual is counted as a resource when determining SSI eligibility unless there is no
circumstance under which a payment from the trust could ever be made for the benefit of
the individual or the individual's spouse.10 Nearly all trusts, even irrevocable burial trusts,
trusts deemed irrevocable under state law and trusts with specific exculpatory clauses
exempting the trust from parts of the Social Security Act, are covered by this provision
and the entire value of the corpora of these trusts is counted as a resource."1 While most
irrevocable burial trusts are not excluded from the SSI resource rules, the value of the
corpora of these trusts is still used to reduce the amount of the burial expense exclusion.
8 The SSI resource exclusions can be found in Section 1613 of the Social Security Act (42 USC
1382b) and in the Code of Federal Regulations at 20 CFR 416.1210-416.1239.
9 With the exception of the Food Stamp program, the programs with these statutory exclusions
are mainly smaller programs that provide benefits to a limited group of people. A complete list
of these programs can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 20 CFR 416.1236.
10 This provision does not apply to trusts established prior to January 1, 2000.
" The SSA has issued guidance on the specific cases in which a burial trust can be excluded from
the resource rules. This guidance can be found in the agency's Program Operations Manual
System (POMS) at Section SI 01120.201(H). The entire POMS can be found on the website of
the SSA at [https://s044a90.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/partlist!OpenView].
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Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Accounts Not Counted As Resources, report, January 8, 2008; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc806025/m1/3/: accessed October 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.