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Gifts and Social Security Benefits

In Benefits and Employment Articles, Benefits Articles, Blog, Featured, News, Seasonal Favorite by eri

This holiday season, we hope you enjoy many gifts. Sometimes the best gifts don't come in packages, but if they do, it’s a good idea to learn how gifts are viewed by Social Security for the SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) programs.

Gifts Don’t Affect SSDI At All

Let’s start with the easy one: SSDI. Gifts do not affect SSDI at all! You do not even have to report them to Social Security. So, tell Santa there is no limit to what he can leave under your tree if the only Social Security payment you get is SSDI (or a Childhood Disability or Disabled Widow Benefit).

Your SSI Eligibility and Payment Amount May Be Affected by Gifts

On the other hand, SSI is a needs-based program. That means that your SSI eligibility and payment amount are affected by income. Social Security may count a gift as income. This depends on what the gift is. The main gifts that count as income are cash and food.

Social Security won’t count the following gifts when deciding SSI eligibility or payments:

  • Personal items and other things that will not count toward the $2,000 asset limit the month after you get them. This would include a car, if it is the only one you have. So, put it on your list!
  • The sweater from grandma and the new TV from your parents also are not counted.
  • Up to $60 cash per calendar quarter. This cash is excluded only if:
  • you get it just once from a single source;
  • you did not get a gift of cash the month before or after, even if those months are in a different calendar quarter. So, cash you get for Christmas won’t be excluded if you also get a cash gift in January.
  • Money used for tuition and other necessary educational expenses.
  • Any commercial transportation ticket for travel in the U.S. and U.S. territories

You should report to Social Security any cash or food gifts you receive. Social Security will determine the nature of the gift and apply the appropriate rules.

Gifts and the SSI Redetermination Review

Social Security asks a routine question about gifts during the SSI redetermination review, which usually happens once a year. If you say that you received a gift, Social Security will normally accept a signed estimate of the value unless there is reason to doubt the estimate.


Contact your local social security office with specific questions about gifts and your benefits, and to report any cash or food gifts you receive:

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