Utah Legal Services


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assisted "Lisa" who is a disabled lady on Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI); wheelchair-bound and on oxygen 24/7.  "Lisa" received a $42,000 settlement last fall, paid as a result of a death from cancer.  "Lisa" reported the settlement to the Social Security Administration (SSA) as required, but she didn’t understand the rules regarding disposing of a resource.  "Lisa" spent the majority of the money wisely, as required—she bought herself a home to live in, prepaid some expenses for a year, bought some furniture, bought a freezer, filled it with food, etc.  Unfortunately, she also gave approximately $13,000 away to various family members for one reason or another. 

 

As a result, she incurred an SSI overpayment for the months she was over the resource limit of $2,000.  Utah Legal Services was able to get the overpayment waived, but then the really bad news—SSA sanctioned her for giving away part of her resources.  She was terminated from SSI for 19 months.  Of course, she also had no money left from her settlement.  This would have been an extremely harsh blow to her, since she has no other income, is disabled, and relies on oxygen and multiple medications to sustain her life.  ULS called SSA and pointed out their provision in statute which allows an “out” for undue hardship.  Within 30 minutes, ULS received a call from SSA letting us know that "Lisa" would receive the two months’ benefits that had been withheld already, and her benefits would start again immediately.