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Do trusts affect my SSI benefits?

Individuals in Charlotte and throughout North Carolina can seek Supplemental Security Income if they meet the various financial and personal requirements. These include having resources under a certain level, as well as being blind, disabled or over the age of 65. Some people have various financial situations that might call their eligibility into question. One is if they have a trust. The Social Security Administration addresses how having a trust might affect a person's ability to be approved when applying for SSI benefits.

A trust allows one party to control property for another's benefit. A person who is getting SSI can have a trust in some cases. In that trust, there can be cash and other liquid assets as well as property that can be transitioned into cash. In general, the trust will be considered a resource when applying or retaining SSI. With a revocable trust, the entire trust is the person's resource. With an irrevocable trust, if there are parts of the trust in which payments could be made to benefit the person, then that amount will be viewed as a resource. Resources are a key factor in determining a person's eligibility for SSI.

It is important to remember that there are generally certain properties that will be considered assets for SSI eligibility determination purposes. Income that is countable and excluded, resources that are also counted and excluded, and property or payments that the person has a right to have but does not get are considered assets. Special needs trusts and pooled trusts are not taken into consideration when making a SSI determination. Those who are seeking benefits and have a trust must be aware of the kind of trust they have as it could affect their ability to get SSI.

Money that is not the applicant's resource can also affect SSI. Any money paid directly to a SSI claimant will reduce their SSI. If the money is paid directly to a person who is providing food and shelter for the claimant, then the SSI award will be reduced, but only up to $265 for 2017. Money that is paid to someone who provides medical care, pays for school, telephone bills, and other items for an SSI claimant will not affect SSI.

People who have a trust or are considering having a trust set up should be aware of how this is viewed by the SSA with regard to SSI benefits. A legal professional who understands the details of SSI Supplemental Security Income may be able to help with understanding trusts and what they mean with SSI.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Spotlight On Trusts -- 2017 Edition," accessed on Sept. 11, 2017

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