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Question for the Money Doctors

Question submitted on Aug 7, 2015.

Question

my mother never decleared she had a life estate for 18 years to SSI; how bad of a problem is that

Answer

SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is intended to provide monthly payments to the disabled and elderly who have limited income and resources.  During the application process, living arrangements are factored into the benefit calculation.  A life estate has value that may or may not have affected your mother’s determination.  Failure to report the life estate would be considered misrepresentation of resources.  If discovered, your mother could be assessed with penalties as high as $5000 for each month that she fraudulently collected the SSI benefit.  You may want to suggest your mother review her situation with an attorney who specializes in SSI if you think she may have potential exposure to the penalties.


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