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ssi spending down questions

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Latest post Mon, Jun 5 2017 7:12 PM by jharby. 0 replies.
  • Mon, Jun 5 2017 7:12 PM

    • jharby
      Consumer
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    • Joined on Mon, Jun 5 2017
    • TX
    • Posts 1

    ssi spending down questions

    This will be a bit long but the questions are all related and I suspect are likely to have similar answers- the rules for spending down to fully qualify for SSI are extremely unclear.  The .gov site lists only a few examples, even when some of them are clearly untrue, and I have read conflicting information on almost every item or category they list.  So overall I'm trying to understand how the ssi is going to react to any potential / theoretical "edge" case in spending since their own information is inherently contradictory or false (for example, they claim you can spend "any" amount of money on "anything" considered a household good, yet if someone spent 1 million dollars on a toaster that would clearly not be allowed for several obvious reasons.  They also claim you cannot spend money on things considered assets that hold value, like a collectable, and yet they allow you to purchase multiple burial "urns" for "any" amount of money - since those "urns"/"ming vases" are wholly unnecessary for survival of the ssi recipient, OR even necessary for holding ashes, so they are clearly collectables except for this highly arbitrary supposed exception.).

    1. self support food items - animals and plants to produce food are supposedly allowed, but do they have to located or even handled on property considered the household or owned directly?  I am wondering, for example, if I purchase a fruit tree to be planted on (presumably nearby) land, for my use, but harvested and (probably partly) given to me, would that be allowed?  How would I have to document it, especially if I was only getting part of the food in exchange for most of the food processing?

         1a. hypothetically, if I invested in some sort of remote food co-op that agreed to send me food on a regular basis, does that count, or is that an investment rather than falling under self support?

    2. Supposedly I am allowed to purchase an item like a refrigerator but what if I am not alone in the household?  The .gov site says nothing about this and seems to assume people are living alone, until they start trying to deduct shared expenses.  Does the full value of a potential shared item apply to the spend down or is their some formula used as a ratio to reduce it?  Does it simply count as an invalid/disallowed gift if you don't live alone?

         2a. if I buy something that creates an additional expense for a shared household, ex. I buy a tv and it increases electrical costs, the ssi shared household reductions don't seem to account for expenses that an individual actually adds - how can they be made to account for this so it does not wrongly and unfairly burden the rest of the household?

         2b. if I buy something that could be used by others (ex. new fridge) but is (potentially) valid for ssi for me, if the family then gives away the older item (ex. refrig) or sells it, at what point does that value became a taxable gift to the family?  and if my family doesn't give but sells something older, as we wouldn't need 2 of large objects, since the older one isn't mine, do they still have to document the market value exchange/sale, as I'm not sure it counts toward total household income or how it relates to "gift" rules, though it may not matter in my case, it may have tax implications for them, even when bought "for myself", the use of it can be considered a gift and the ssi people may not only record it but even be required to report it to the irs, so others would have to consider whether it's worth the trouble of selling older items.

    3. how does supposedly exempt home repair spend down count if the ssi applicant does not own the home/housing? Is it identical for upgrades like solar panels?  Is it identical for adding something like an AC unit for a specific room for the specific benefit of the recipient, even though they don't own the house and therefore may immediately lose ownership of the item/housing upgrade?  Does it matter if are paying rent, or should be, and does rent count as "ownership interest"?

    4. I believe I read that spending on legal issues/lawyers were allowed in some cases but it isn't clear where that applies - I'm referring to issues unrelated to ssi.  For example, can I pay a divorce lawyer to review old paperwork even though the issue isn't currently in litigation, or does that matter (it wouldn't be related to the ssi in any way)?

    5. Medical spending is supposedly allowed but does this apply to something that might be considered cosmetic surgery?  What about preventative surgery, like the removal of a mole so it cannot become cancerous, or removing something like an appendix if you thought medicaid would not cover parts of the expense?  What about medical procedures related to the issues related to the ssi application itself, but could be considered optional, experimental, etc.?

    6. Spending on gift cards or accounts is supposedly not allowed but this is because such spending is supposedly available to be turned back into cash, so what about buying the kind of "gift card" that is required to be spent on something - or buying "credits" on an online store that could never be turned in cash?

    7. Some recreational stuff is allowed, and some for support but seems to say it's related to "work" of some kind - so ex. if I buy a crossbow and tent and camping gear for hunting to compensate for low ssi payments and food allowance, or if I bought right to hunt in an area, would that be allowed?  It's not "work" but it sounds like it counts as "self support", or does that not require actual income?  I am unclear on how they categorize things that fall into multiple categories.  (I know it's a bad example as most people on ssi would be too ill to hunt, but it just popped into mind because the ssi payments are so low.)

    8. Paying off some debts is supposedly allowed but what if I have verbal/informal debts, for example with family members for care provided before the ssi kicked in - if we had a legal document drawn up, would I be allowed to simply pay them?  I've read several times that this situation seems to be disallowed but I am not clear on how the ssi is allowed to dismiss a legal contract in some cases but not others.

    9. Personal items allowed include pets, which I assume includes gear for pets like cages, etc.  Does this apply if I have not selected or purchased the pet at the current time, or don't know when I would be able to that?

    10. Would buying canning equipment or sterilizers or such count given the possible plan to can fruit, make jams, etc. even if I am not currently doing so but only hoping to once I find some crops that will grow properly in our small space?  if for personal use I assume it's ok but I'm not certain what happens if they ask if I have ever actually used them and I have to say no because, up to that point for example, we have not been producing enough fruit to actually save that way despite the hope at the time.  The ssi gov site seems to suggest that they only allow for things you are currently doing rather than things you hope for/intend to do, and this "attitude" seems to apply across various categories.

         10a. One example of where this problem is especially pronounced in the work-support items category.  Supposedly you can buy things like work boots or uniforms, which presumes you have a job despite the fact that nearly any job would prevent you from getting ssi, but they only list things as if you currently have a particular job.  Can I purchase something like a laptop, which can be used for multiple potential future jobs?  A lot of those items seem to overlap with household goods so laptop isn't a good example but I'm wondering about the general case.  A lot of ssi recipients would seem to need to take temp jobs, and so their equipment needs are going to be general and varied but the .gov site implies the exceptions only apply to a current job.

    11. Engagement ring - am I allowed to buy and keep an engagement ring as I hope to be married one day, despite not being engaged, and may not be indefinitely?  would a wedding ring also be allowed under the same circumstances?  The regulations say not nothing about divorce or actually being married or engaged so oddly enough it seems to be allowed.  Also no amount is listed but I assume some practical limit is considered excessive- what is that amount?

    12. ssi says animals for investment purposes like selling for breeding are not counted, - however, does this mean that I could not buy ex. a pedigreed dog because of their better behavior, training, and treatment, just because hypothetically a friend or relative might buy the same dog, and might in theory breed them (regardless of my intent at the time, or even lack of benefit in the future).

    13. For calculating rent for a room, for a past or ongoing debt, what is the correct way to value the room?  The ssi site in other places says "fair market value" but that has no meaning - a room in a house is totally different from other houses or apartments, and the value of those places, even of the same size, are valued differently depending on where they are located, as any real estate agent knows.  So how do you calculate the FMV for either this situation, or others where the FMV is so variable as to make the phrase almost meaningless?

    14. Items required because of an individual's physical or mental impairment, such as prosthetic devices or wheelchairs, are also personal effects.
    ==>so does this apply, pending household information and ownership, to something like an alarm system because of something like anxiety?

    15. Loans are apparently allowed but no mention of required minimums for payment or interest, either to or from the recipient.  And if I, as a recipient, was to have loaned money and someone defaults, what does the ssi do?

    Thanks

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