The world of social security benefits can be bewildering. There are multiple programs, with multiple acronyms.
Even with the recent efforts by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to provide more accessible information, the layman can start to feel like a rat trapped in a maze. The following are some basics on social security benefits and how inheritance might affect them. If you would like to speak with a Social Security disability lawyer, please contact our office for a free consultation.
SSI vs Social Security Disability
There are two primary programs administered by the SSA that cover disabled workers who have not yet reached retirement age. Social Security Disability is the actual social security benefit, and SSI or Supplemental Security Income.
Social Security Disability is dependent only on if you meet the eligibility requirements both for receiving social security (work credits paid into the program over the past ten years) and the requirements for being disabled, current assets and income don’t change your eligibility for this program. SSI is based on both your eligibility as disabled and your net assets and liability.
Inheritance Received While on Social Security
If you receive an inheritance while receiving any money from the SSA, it is a good idea to research if and how that money will affect your benefits.
As a general rule of thumb, if you are receiving social security benefits either as part of social security disability or retirement, this income should not change your eligibility for benefits. If you are receiving benefits from the SSI program, any inheritance that increases your net income or assets above the income/assets limits. These calculations can be complicated and change depending on other factors. However, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is based on need and it may change if your income changes.
Social Security Benefits as Inheritance
Social Security isn’t like a 401k or other retirement savings. It isn’t part of your estate, so it does not pass on to your children or spouse automatically as part of their inheritance.
However, your children under the age of 18 and living at home and your spouse would likely be eligible for survivors’ benefits through the SSA.
How to Keep Your Inheritance & Your benefits
If you are on SSI, losing your benefits because of a one-time lump sum like an inheritance can be devastating. It can mean going back to the beginning and having to go through the whole months long process again before being able to regain your benefits.
There are options available that can help. Consider setting up a special needs trust fund for your inheritance, or asking to be disinherited in favor of someone else you would like to have those funds.
Still not sure how your social security benefits might be affected by a possible inheritance? That’s okay, we’re here to help. The Kenneth G. Marks Law Firm specializes in Social Security law and has years of experience navigating the ever changing currents of this federal agency.
Let us help you determine what kind of benefits you have, how they might be affected, and what you can do to protect your assets and your lifestyle.
Kenneth G. Marks is an aggressive Social Security Disability attorney who will fight for you!
Phone: 949.748.6470, Fax: 949.748.6474
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