Supplemental Security Income:

Some Recipients Transfer Valuable Resources to Qualify for Benefits

HEHS-96-79: Published: Apr 30, 1996. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, focusing on: (1) the number of SSI recipients reporting resource transfers; (2) the kind and worth of resources being transferred; and (3) the possible savings resulting from a reinstatement of the SSI transfer-of-resources restriction.

GAO found that: (1) while the number of SSI recipients reporting resource transfers has increased, they are only a fraction of the total number of SSI recipients; (2) between 1990 and 1994, 3,505 SSI recipients reported transferring resources worth more than $74 million; (3) the value of reported transferred resources varied and the actual extent of resource transfers is unknown because the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not verify or investigate SSI recipients' self-reported information about resource transfers; and (4) reinstating the SSI transfer-of-resource restriction could reduce program costs, reduce Medicaid costs, and increase SSA administrative costs.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In December 1999, the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 was enacted, including a provision reinstating an SSI transfer-of-resource penalty.

    Matter: In light of the potential for reduced program expenditures and increased program integrity, Congress may wish to consider reinstating an SSI transfer-of-resource restriction. The restriction could be calculated in a way that takes into account the value of the resource transferred so that individuals transferring more valuable resources would be ineligible for SSI benefits for longer periods of time than those who transfer less valuable resources.


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