Saving, Benefits, and Working

Saving Limits For People Receiving Government Benefits

If you receive assistance from certain government programs including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Pennsylvania’s Home and Community-Based Services waiver programs, or Medical Assistance (Medicaid), make sure that your total resources (that includes the total of your checking and savings accounts) are within the program guidelines.

For example, if you receive SSI, the total for your countable resources cannot be more than $2,000. This total is also called an asset limit. Exceptions are made so that you can own a home and a car for essential transportation—the value of these items is not counted against the $2,000 resource limit.

The waiver guidelines also have strict limits on the total amount of countable resources you may have and still maintain your services. That limit is $8,000 for a single individual (with your home and one car exempt). Much higher resource limits apply to married couples.

In addition to asset limits, some government programs including SSI, waivers, and Medical Assistance also have income limits. Income limits restrict the total amount of earned and unearned income you can make in a month and still receive services. However, the higher income limit for Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD) makes it possible for people who are working to earn more (and save more – it has a $10,000 asset limit) while remaining eligible for both Medical Assistance and Home and Community-Based Services waivers. Learn more about MAWD.

Helpful Tip!

Your resources do NOT affect your eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits (see below) or your eligibility for Medicare.

For information about Pennsylvania’s waiver programs, visit the Department of Human Services’ website, Services for Persons with Disabilities. You can also call toll-free, 1-800-692-7462.

Helpful Tip!

Certain assets are not counted when Social Security determines eligibility for SSI or the state determines eligibility for Medical Assistance (Medicaid). View a complete list of assets that are not counted.

What’s the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?

The initials of the programs are so similar that it’s easy to confuse the two.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a monthly cash benefit provided to individuals based on their prior earnings or the earnings of a deceased, retired or disabled parent or spouse where the individual’s disability or health condition keeps them from engaging in their normal occupation or other employment. Individuals must be between 18 and 65, and must have worked a certain number of years to be eligible. The spouse of the person with the disability, and any dependent children, may also be eligible to receive partial dependent benefits. These are called auxiliary benefits.
    SSDI is funded through payroll taxes, so the amount you receive is based on how long you’ve worked and how much you’ve paid in Social Security taxes. After receiving SSDI for two years, a person with a disability will also become eligible for Medicare. Unlike SSI, there are no asset or resource limits for SSDI and other unearned income is not considered.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI), meanwhile, is an unearned benefit that pays cash on a monthly basis to people with limited income and resources who are 65 or older; to adults who have a disability (based on the same definition used by SSDI) or are blind; and to children who have a disability or are blind. This program is only for people who have very limited income and assets. Individuals who receive SSI are also eligible for Medical Assistance.

For more information about SSI, go to the Social Security Administration website,

Helpful Tip!

It may be possible to receive both SSDI and SSI benefits.