Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries in New Jersey will recall this blog’s discussion last week regarding the requirement to notify the Social Security Administration of any changes in circumstances. A sudden change in income can cause termination of benefits. Winning the lottery, inheriting money or getting a gift can all increase an individual’s resources, which is a key factor in determining SSI eligibility.
One man recently found out that his SSI benefits were temporarily suspended because he won $100,000 from the lottery. The 51-year old veteran has congestive heart failure and is considered disabled. In addition to the suspension of benefits, he has also been billed by the SSA for overpayments from December to February.
The man attempted to decrease his winnings, giving away more than $36,000 to family members. Even so, the SSA informed him that his SSI benefits are suspended until his assets total less than $2,000.
The man has about $25,000 left from his winnings, but says he is scared to spend the money in case his benefits are not reinstated.
Although few people will have the good fortune of winning the lottery, this case is an example of how complex the SSI benefit program can be. That is why it is often beneficial to work with an experienced attorney. An attorney will be able to explain the guidelines to an individual and help them continue to receive the benefits that they so desperately need.
Despite this man’s unfortunate situation, SSI benefits may allow people who have been identified as disabled to live a normal life. Individuals planning to apply for SSI or SSDI benefits would do well to consult with an attorney even before they begin the application process. The application process can be complicated, but an attorney will be able to assist an individual throughout the entire process.
Source: The Pueblo Chieftain, “Not so lucky windfall,” Loretta Sword, Mar. 17, 2012