The USA’s Social Security Program provides relief for people who can’t afford to care for themselves. Still, there are a lot of conditions and responsibilities you have to fulfill if you want to be eligible for the program.
It can get a bit tiring, especially considering they can easily freeze your cheque if they find you’ve exceeded their set account limits. You might feel like you constantly have to worry about how much access they have.
Yes, your bank account is checked, but not every month. This check is because they need to confirm you still meet the requirements to qualify for the Social Supplement Program or SSI.
Seeing as even the slightest deviations can make them take you off the list of beneficiaries, it’s stressful to keep a close eye on the numbers to ensure you don’t suffer for it.
Can Social Security Legally Check Your Bank Account?
Yes, some laws legally allow Social Security to check your bank account. The program has a very strict set of conditions that a person must meet to qualify to apply for the SSI program.
When you fill out the form for the program, you also give them official permission to check your accounts. If you don’t, you can’t apply.
Officially, this is to ensure that there is no abuse of funds. You can’t have more money than they have determined, including all income assets, excluding certain things like house, vehicle, and household effects. Besides, every stock, cash, or other resource counts in its set amount.
The money they provide varies depending on who’s receiving it, but the official payment for people with disability is $2,000. This limit means they will check your account regularly to ensure you don’t exceed this limit.
How Often Does the SSI Check Your Bank Account?
They check on your account regularly, though it can have an interval of up to two years or even monthly. Ideally, it doesn’t make sense for them to do it monthly, though it is possible if they set up an electronic system.
Some receivers of SSI have reported that they don’t receive any messages for up to two years, even if they’ve exceeded the limit by a few months.
This interval is because even if they’re checking after a while, they’ll receive a full report of your bank account after two years.
They’ll have a detailed account of the past 24 months and can see what months you went over. They’ll then add up those numbers.
You’ll be contacted and told to pay the total amount, usually in monthly deductions from your cheque. You’re expected to pay back no matter how little the amount. Similarly, you also need to report any extra income, which will be deducted from the payment.
It’s better to be careful with your monthly dealings because if the SSI checks your account after a long time and you have a large amount racked up, it’ll be harder to pay it off.
Why Does Social Security Have Access to My Bank Account Information?
This access is possible because Congress permitted the Social Security Administration to review financial accounts. They were approved in 1999, and the SSI program put the power in effect in 2003. They established a system to allow them to go over every asset of a person signing up for it.
If the person doesn’t want to allow access, they can’t apply. You have to let the SSA review your bank reports to see what personal assets are under your name. If you’re trying for the disability program, all assets cannot exceed $2,000.
They’ll also check for any accounts geographically near you to make sure you aren’t hiding any other bank accounts or resources.
If you want to be considered, you must report every asset you have, or you might be in trouble. It’ll take away your chances of being granted payments even if you try to sign up again.
What Resources Fall Under the SSI Program?
Every single income source apart from a few essentials like the house you live in or the car you drive counts as a resource. This stipulation means any bank accounts, second home or vehicles, building, stocks, savings or saving bonds, life insurance worth over $1,500, or land counts.
The definition is that anything you can sell or convert into food and shelter is a resource.
This list also includes ‘deemed’ resources which are a part of the resources of certain people around the claimant. These include his parents, spouse, parent’s spouse, spouse’s spouse, or sponsor of an alien.
Sponsor of an alien means someone who has been assisted by someone who signed an affidavit of support.
The rules are different for children with disabilities as their parents’ resources are considered.
If one parent supports an underage child, resources worth $2,000 won’t be counted, while the number is $3,000 for two parents. Anything over these amounts is calculated into the child’s $2,000 payment.
What Happens if I Exceed the $2,000 Limit on the SSI?
Wherever you go over the $2,000 limit, you’ll have to send over any extra money. In a worst-case scenario, you might have to pay back the entire cheque for the month you went over. We’re mentioning the importance of ensuring you don’t exceed the $2,000 limit because the smallest deviation can cost you.
The SSI program has very strict conditions; if you ever receive any payment not officially yours and you spend it, report it instantly. They’ll probably take you to court if you spend it or can’t pay it back later.
You’ll be penalized or sanctioned if you don’t report any extra income for a month or the changes listed by the SSI.
You might even become ineligible for the money. They will take out any resource over the $2,000 mark for that month.
If something happens that makes the numbers on your bank account go over a large margin, they’ll probably ask you to pay back the entire payment for that month. You can make this payment in intervals from $100-$25.
An example is if someone uses your account for money laundering or making a large transaction. It’s necessary to safeguard your budget carefully; if possible, it’s best to have full autonomy over it.
Can I Have a Savings Account While Receiving SSI Cheques?
Yes, you can have a savings account while on the SSI program, but it will be a resource and affect your payments. This fact means that any money in the account counts towards the total $2000 limit.
This limit means that if you want a savings account, you’ll have to strictly manage your income to adjust your usual spending. Since the cheque is already constricting, it’s hard to have a savings account and live comfortably.
If you go over the set amount and don’t report any increase, you’ll get a fine or may even lose eligibility. It’s necessary to make sure you’re strict with managing your funds.
If you are a person with any kind of disability, Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI is more flexible. More flexible rules allow you to upkeep as much money in your savings account as you want.
How Can I Keep My SSI Eligibility Safe?
First, contact a disability lawyer who can advise you and help you stay aware of all the necessary information needed when signing up for the program.
Next, if a problem arises where you end up having to pay back a full month’s payment and they ask for $100 increments, consider contacting a social worker who can deal with Social Security. It’s the best course of action if you don’t have access to a lawyer.
They can help bring the payments down to as little as $20.
If you ever feel like your income will go over $2,000, buy something like food that doesn’t count as a resource.
Any household effect also doesn’t count as a resource, but spending the money on edible things like canned food means you’ll keep it from going to waste. If you have limited resources, every relief you can get is good.
How Strict Are SSI Payments?
The SSI is extremely strict with payments. For example, if a person is paid a $500 cheque and wins a lottery for $200, they must report it. The cheque for that month will then be for $300 before returning to normal the following month.
SSI payments are based on the first month’s income, and any changes you report are then subtracted or added from that base amount. Failure to inform them of any deviation results in strict action against the claimant.
Other than that, they stipulate that if the cost of living, so will your benefits, especially for disabled people. If the price goes up by 2%, your benefits will also increase by the same percentage.
However, there are many intricacies and conditions to be eligible for the program. Read every resource on the program carefully before deciding to apply for it.