How Does Car Ownership Impact SSI Benefits?

How Does Car Ownership Impact SSI Benefits?

I’ll be honest when it comes to the Social Security process, I have a lot to learn. A recent transition in our firm has me now placed with the individuals who determine eligibility for new Social Security clients.

For me, it was kind of like what happened on “Lost” when they met “The Others.” In other words, I am in unfamiliar territory. For the past three years, I have only been around individuals who work in VA Disability.

While I still work in the field of VA, I am now a part of the team that does all of the new calls for Social Security. What I do has not changed, just my environment. People usually have misconceptions about social security.

I am an observant person, some may even say hyper-vigilant, but I tend to pick up on things.

One thing I picked up on in my new workspace was that all of the people who evaluate social security clients were asking how many cars people owned. I happen to really like cars, so I was curious as to why this question was being asked.

Unfortunately, I found out that we weren’t building some sort of car database or organizing a car show. Instead, our social security leads employees are asking about the cars individuals own because it can affect Social Security Insurance benefits.

When it comes to Social Security there are two different programs: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). We have explained the difference between the two programs in the past, but it’s important to keep in mind that SSI is income-based, and SSDI is based on work credits. You could have as many cars like Jay Leno and still possibly qualify for SSDI, but the same is not true for SSI.

Read More: Am I Eligible for SSI?

How Much Can My Car Be Worth on SSI?

When it comes to SSI, assets can count against you. If you have multiple properties it can count against you. The same can be said for multiple cars.

For instance, if you have more than one car, the SSA will count the second vehicle against you. They deem items like cars, property, and personal property as resources. To put it simply, resources are the things you own. If you have too many resources than it is possible that you will not be qualified for SSI benefits.

Under the SSA rules, one car will not count against you. In other words, you are allowed to own one vehicle without it counting as one of your resources. You can have a 2014 Jaguar F-Type as your sole vehicle without it counting against you. However, if you own two 1995 Dodge Neon, you will be penalized. The SSA is not concerned with the value of the vehicle. Owning one $20,000 car won’t count hurt you.

However, owning two cars that are valued at just over $1,000 will count against you. While that may seem odd, keep in mind that they are looking at this as if you could sell excess assets in order to pay bills, etc.

It is also rare for an individual who has a car worth a lot of money to not be eligible for SSDI instead. Most likely if you own a car of high value, you had some sort of gainful employment to buy that car.

We just used the above example to show contrast. Most people need a vehicle for transportation, and that is why one car, regardless of value, is not counted against you. However, we really can’t argue that individuals need more than one car for transportation. That is why multiple vehicles count as assets.

Talk to Our SSI Attorneys to Learn How Owning a Car Affects Your Claim

Please note, the number of cars you own, your personal property, and the land you own will not count against you when it comes to SSDI. Instead, SSDI is based on work credits, not income.

To see if you are qualified for either of the Social Security programs or to ask more questions about eligibility, call our office today for a free consultation from an experienced attorney. Fill out this form to schedule a consultation.

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Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law

Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law