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What 'resources' don't count in an SSI application in New Jersey?

Several weeks ago, this space discussed some of the basic information the Social Security Administration will look at when accepting an application for Supplemental Security Income. Readers may recall that because SSI is meant for individuals with little wealth, the SSA will want to look at sources of income as well as other financial resources an applicant may have. We've discussed what may or may not constitute as income for these purposes previously, but let's turn now briefly to the concept of resources.

A New Jersey applicant for SSI may wonder how resources differ from income. In a nutshell, income is a flow of money that is recurring on at least a semi-regular basis, such as monthly or bi-weekly. Resources is a larger category that may include any property, real or personal, that a person owns that is worth money and could be liquidated for money that could be used for basic necessities such as shelter, clothing or food. Any money held in a checking or savings account might be considered a resource, for example. Any financial securities such as stocks, bonds or annuities, like a life insurance policy, might also qualify. Real property, such as owning a piece of land, would also be normally be considered a resource, though there may be exceptions to that, as we will see below. Basically, an applicant will not be eligible for SSI if he or she has individual resources of more than $2,000, or a couple has more than $3,000.

Individuals who need Social Security disability income in the form of SSI should not despair, however, as the SSA has certain property that they will not count as resources toward the cap. These generally include those resources that are used for basic needs of the applicant or would be unfair to force people to liquidate to receive benefits. Such exempted property may include a person's home and the property on which it is situated, one vehicle if it is used for the applicant's or his or her family's transportation, various burial assets and life insurance policies that are worth less than $1,500 and educational grants or scholarships received within the past nine months.

New Jersey residents who need SSI to make ends meet may or may not be aware of all the property they have that may be considered resources by the SSA. Such individuals may wish to consider consulting an experienced disability attorney, so that they may better understand the application process.

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