“If I own a house or have a lot of money in the bank, can I still receive disability?” This is a question I get a lot, even from attorneys. The answer to the question is “yes”, even if you own property, even a significant amount of property, you can still receive Social Security Disability. It is not based on your assets or resources or needs. As an American worker you have been paying into Social Security your entire life. Someday, if you’re lucky (and it actually appears that most of us will in fact be lucky), you will receive this back in the form of Social Security retirement payments and Medicare. HOWEVER, Social Security isn’t only for retirees. It’s also for the disabled. Part of that money you pay to Social Security every pay check goes into a special trust fund for Social Security Disability Insurance. In order to receive this type of Social Security all you have to be is disabled. Of course you aren’t disabled just because you say you are disabled, or because your doctor says you are disabled. You are only disabled if you meet very technical requirements of the Social Security Administration. A decision regarding your disability will be made based on your medical records and medical exams. However, that is a discussion for another time.
I was asked the other day why Social Security Disability isn’t “needs” based. It’s a question I get often. My answer would be this: no matter who you are you could become disabled tomorrow. You could be unable to ever return to work. This could be the case regardless of your age. If this were to happen to me, I would still have decades to live in front of me. Any assets I have now would most likely be used up by the time I reached retirement age, so, because I would have zero earning capacity, I would receive a monthly payment from the Social Security Administration for the rest of my life to help me. It wouldn’t be a case of not wanting to work. It would be a case of inability. Of course a person would only qualify if he/she had already been working for most of their adult life AND contributing to Social Security. Also, whatever amount one might receive as disability would be far less than they had been receiving when they were working.
I think sometimes confusion comes from the fact that if you are disabled AND have limited resources, you can also receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which would provide a monthly supplement to your disability payment. This part of Social Security is completely based on need and someone who has a sizable bank account would not qualify. You also must be disabled to receive this supplemental amount.
In closing, yes, you can receive disability even if you have a million dollars in a bank account. If you have limited resources you can receive Supplemental Security Income on top of that amount.