Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides extra money to individuals who are disabled and living on limited funds. To qualify for SSI, you must be permanently and totally disabled, and you must also meet income and asset requirements. Because Social Security doesn't count your main home as an asset, having a mortgage on it won't affect your eligibility for SSI.
To qualify for SSI, you must have countable assets worth less than $3,000. Countable assets include stock, bonds, bank account balances, cash, vehicles and real estate. However, Social Security excludes some of your assets from this calculation. At the time of publication, Social Security won't include your car, life insurance policies with face value of no more than $1,500, burial plots you own for yourself and immediate family, up to $1,500 in burial funds or the value of your main home.
Valuing Real Estate
Although Social Security excludes your main home when determining your eligibility for SSI, it will include any other real estate you own. To determine the value of other real estate, Social Security estimates the property's fair market value and subtracts any liens or liabilities against it, such as mortgages and home equity loans. For example, if you own a second home with a fair market value of $300,000 and a mortgage balance of $250,000, the home's estimated value as a countable asset is $50,000.
If you own other mortgaged real estate, the balance of the mortgage will reduce the value of the property, which may help you qualify for SSI. However, if you have more than $2,000 worth of equity in your countable properties, Social Security is likely to deny your application. If you have less than $2,000 worth of equity in your countable properties, you may qualify for SSI, depending on the values of your other countable assets.
If you are married, your countable asset limit for SSI purposes increases to $3,000. However, Social Security will include your spouse's income and resources when determining your eligibility. If you own real estate jointly with another person who is not your spouse, only your portion of the property's equity will count against you when you apply for SSI. To apply for SSI, visit Social Security's website or call your local Social Security office to make an appointment.
Amanda McMullen is a freelancer who has been writing professionally since 2010. She holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics and statistics and a second bachelor's degree in integrated mathematics education.