To receive SSI benefits (Supplemental Security Income) you have to meet certain criteria. You are allowed to own a home and receive SSI benefits provided it’s the home you live in. But you may also know that there are limits on how much money you have access to while still being able to receive SSI. Understandably, many worry that the sale of their home will push them over this limit and trigger the end of SSI payments.
Below, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about selling a home while receiving SSI.
What is SSI?
Supplemental Security Income is a program that provides monthly payments to people with limited income and resources (no more than $2,000 or $3,000 for a couple) who are disabled or over the age of 65. To receive SSI, you do not need to have any previous work history.
Your “resources” include anything that could be used to pay for essentials (such as shelter and food).
Does your home count as a resource for SSI?
Provided your home is your principal residence (i.e., it’s not a second home or rental property), it does not count as a resource. It does, however, become a resource if you (and anyone else living with you in the property) leave it without “the intention to return” unless you move to an institution.
The only caveat to this is if you have to remove yourself from the home for your safety, in which case it remains your primary residence until you find a new primary residence.
Can I sell my home while on SSI?
The good news is that you can retain your SSI benefits while selling your home, provided you comply with all federal requirements.
The main rule you need to follow is that any money you receive from the sale of your home is excluded as a countable resource for 3 months. In those 3 months, you can purchase another home and use the proceeds to make that home more suitable for you, if there is any money left over. If at the end of that time there is still money left over, that will count as a resource and so your SSI payments may then be affected.
You may find it beneficial to use a lawyer familiar with SSI to ensure you maintain your benefits, even while moving to a new (and often more appropriate) home, especially if there will be any length of time between you selling your home and purchasing a new one.
What about if there’s money left over after the sale?
If there are proceeds left over from the sale of your home, they will count as “resources” and thus must be used to pay for your daily living expenses. For example, if you own a large two-story 4 bedroom home that sells for $550,000, and you use $300,000 to purchase a single-story home closer to town, the remaining $250,000 to live off.
Obviously, in an example like this, you may decide to do this to give yourself the funds to live a better quality of life than the one you were before when you owned a large property but had little financial resources to live off. But this is also the case if your proceeds are smaller.
For example, if you sell your home for $250,000, and buy a new home for $225,000, you must use that $25,000 to live off. You may decide to invest that money in your new home to make it more suitable for you, and provided you spend that money within the 3 months of moving into your new home, your SSI payments will remain.
If you have to use that money to live off, you can again apply for SSI once the money has been used up.
Do I need to ask anyone for permission to sell my house if I’m on SSI?
No, but it may be best to tell them what your plans are. In most cases, you simply need to report your earnings as normal, but no harm will come of letting them know what you plan to do. This program is designed for people whose needs are often changing – so naturally, a lot of people will move to a more suitable dwelling during their time on SSI.
Should I avoid moving to continue my SSI payments?
If you have a good reason to move, then it makes little sense to stay put if somewhere else would be better suited for your needs. Some people want to hold onto the equity in their home so they can pass it on to their loved ones, but you need to consider your own quality of life. Also, consider if your loved ones would prefer to inherit the home or see you living comfortably.
If you love your home and don’t want to move, but are struggling to live in it comfortably, look into what other programs are available to you to help you find a better quality of living. Here are a few you can research:
- Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) Home Modification Vocational Rehabilitation Program
- MRC Home Modification Loan Program (Low and No Interest Loans)
- MRC Assistive Technology Loan Program
- Department of Developmental Services Family Support Program
- Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund
- MA Home Improvement Loan Program
- Rebuilding Together
This list is not exhaustive, so if you need to make home modifications or improvements, there are other options available.
We Buy Homes in Massachusetts
If you decide that moving is the right move for you, whether you have decided to free up some equity so you can live a better quality of life or simply need to move to a new home, we can help you make the move quickly. We buy homes in Massachusetts in as-is condition, meaning you don’t need to make any costly repairs or updates before putting your home on the market.
All you need to do is let us know a few details about your home and we’ll give you our best cash offer. You’re under no obligation to accept our offer, but if you do, we’ll get the ball rolling and can close in as little as 2-3 weeks. To find out more about how it works or to contact us about your home, click here.