SSI Rules Regarding Cars

In order to be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits , a beneficiary must meet both income and resource limits in addition to meeting certain medical requirements.  SSI eligibility also means eligibility for Medicaid.  If the person is not eligible for SSI then the person is not eligible for Medicaid.  Most states will not provide Medicaid to individuals over the age of 18 unless the individual is also receiving SSI benefits.  It is important to understand all the eligibility rules for SSA programs.

While the income limit under the SSA statute can be complicated by the types of income an individual or family is receiving, the resource limits are standardized: an individual is allowed a maximum total of $2000 in resources/ assets and a couple is allowed $3000.  A family which has more than 2 people will have a resource/asset limit of $3000.

One countable resource that surprises many potential or current beneficiaries is the ownership of a vehicle. Under the SSI rules, an individual or family is allowed to own one car regardless of its value. If the individual or family owns a second car, it will be counted as an asset and its value will count toward a beneficiary’s resource limit. There are only a few exceptions to this rule.  Therefore, potential applicants must be sure they meet the car ownership rules when determining if their assets meet the SSI requirements. A typical problem arises if a family’s second car is valued at more than $3000. Once the car is valued at more than $3000 the family resource and asset amount has exceeded the SSI limit and the individual who was applying for SSI or who was receiving SSI benefits is no longer eligible for SSI.

The Social Security defines an “automobile” as
“any registered or unregistered vehicle used for transportation.” Even a temporarily broken down car that is normally used for transportation will meet the SSA definition of an automobile.  It is important to understand how Social Security will determine the value of your vehicle.

If a person or family owns 2 cars a determination as to the value of the car should be made before filing an application for SSI.  The Social Security Administration uses the N.A.D.A Guide to determine vehicle value.  To read more about the SSA rules and for information on how SSA values second cars go to the SSA Digital Library Electronic Resources website at

More information on how to appeal the SSA evaluation of your second car will be discussed in the next issue of the CF Roundtable. If you have questions about Social Security benefits please call the CF Legal Information Hotline at 1-800-622-0385. The Hotline is sponsored by a grant from the CF Foundation. All calls are free and confidential.

This entry was posted in CF Legal Rights, CF Social Security Benefits and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to SSI Rules Regarding Cars

  1. steven says:

    Is their still a limit of assets if you have concurrent ssi and ssdi?

    • bethsufian says:

      There is an asset limit for anyone on SSI even if the person is receiving SSDI. However, if a person goes over the SSI asset limit and loses his SSI benefit he should not lose his SSDI. SSDI does not have an asset limit. Remember if a person loses SSI he loses Medicaid benefits.

  2. Melissa says:

    I am married, we have two vehicles, one is valued at 25,000 and one is valued at 2,000. Will they claim the most expensive car or can we choose to claim the less valuable one.

  3. David says:

    If family had SSI and the children have SSI and got their back pay, would they able to
    Spend there back pay on anything they want for example a dirtbike if it cost
    1500$ since that it less than 2000$ or would the child’s benifits be lost?

    • bethsufian says:

      The value of the dirt bike will most likely be counted as an asset in terms of SSI eligibility. A family of 2 or more people can only have total assets of $3000. If a dirt bike is worth $1500 then the family could not have more than $1500 in any other assets. The same would hold true for a boat or a motorcycle or a second car. In addition, SSI will usually send the family a form to complete at the end of the year asking the family to document what the family spent the SSI benefit or back money on for the child. Nothing in this post is meant to be legal advice but is only meant to be information.

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