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I take a lot of pride in the work that I do. March will be my six-year anniversary with the firm, and I still find this work rewarding. Something that a lot of my fellow coworkers will tell you is that we often get stopped outside the office by citizens who have questions. Many of us own garments that read “Jan Dils Attorneys at Law.” So, we get stopped a lot. We are always happy to answer questions. Recently while shopping at a grocery store, I was approached by a woman who had questions about her son receiving Social Security. Naturally, I was happy to help her.
She mentioned that her son was in his mid-thirties and had some developmental disabilities. He never really worked for a company or paid taxes. He lived on her property but in a trailer of his own that was recently given to him. A few months back he hurt his back while working on a car. She said she didn’t think that he’d ever be able to work.
When an individual comes to us to seek representation, we will complete a formal review asking a series of questions. However, when someone stops you in the middle of Kroger, you have to use your knowledge of the process. Two things immediately stuck out to me. For one, since he never had a traditional job, he wouldn’t have any work credits. Thus, Social Security Disability Insurance would not likely be a route he could pursue. Instead, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a needs-based program, would be his best option. However, when she stated that he hurt himself working on a car I asked a follow-up question. “Did he enjoy working on cars?” She responded that he did, and he had several old vehicles on their property that he had restored. This was a big red flag for me. It actually pertains to a rule with the SSA that I am not a fan of, but I understand why it is in place.
Under the SSA’s rules for assets, an individual may own one vehicle, regardless of value, and not be required to count that vehicle as an asset. However, if he or she owns two vehicles, one will, in most cases be counted as an asset. In the eyes of the SSA, you can own a brand new $90,000 Cadillac Escalade, and face no penalty, but if you own two 2004 Toyota 4Runners valued at $20,000 you will face a penalty.
When you call us or come see us in person regarding a Social Security claim, we discuss everything regarding assets in more detail. However, I want to focus on vehicle ownership because this one impacts a lot of our clients. It’s not just a car that can be counted against you, though. Many people here in Parkersburg, and really, most of the people in West Virginia, like to ride ATV’s. Thus, a lot of people own them. Well, an ATV can be counted as a vehicle, and it can be counted as an asset if you’re applying for SSI. The same can be true for certain types of motorcycles, RVs, and even animals.
I understand why the SSA has to have certain limits for assets. It wouldn’t be fair to let someone who has 10 cars worth over a million dollars draw SSI. Once again, it is a needs-based program. Then again, it’s not fair that a person with an $8,000 truck and a $3,000 ATV are penalized. I wish the SSA would simply set a monetary limit for all vehicles. For instance, why not say all vehicles can’t exceed $50,000?
Overall, it’s important to be educated about how all assets can impact your claim for SSI. If you are interested in learning more about the process, call us today for a FREE consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a later time.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law