Does Social Security Monitor Bank Accounts?

During the initial SSI claims process, and at any time in continuing eligibility reviews, SSI applicants and beneficiaries are required to report their resources to ensure they are within resource limitations to qualify for SSI. Having money above the resource limit held by SSI recipients is the leading cause of over-payment errors.

In 1999, Congress amended the Social Security Act to grant authority to the Social Security Administration to verify financial accounts to make sure SSI applicant/recipients do not have financial resources above the eligibility limit. In 2003, the Social Security Administration exercised this authority by adopting regulations to make giving permission to contact financial institutions an eligibility requirement for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The Access to Financial Institutions (AFI) process is an electronic process that verifies bank account balances directly with financial institutions to determine SSI eligibility in SSI initial claims and re-determinations. In addition, AFI detects undisclosed accounts by searching for accounts geographically near the SSI applicant or beneficiary.

Can Social Security Check My Bank Account?

In short, yes. When you file your SSI claim, you must give the Social Security Administration permission to use its AFI to contact financial institutions and request any financial records that the financial institution may have about you. You must give this permission for your initial application as well as for continuing eligibility reviews after you begin receiving SSI payments. You must also provide permission from anyone whose income and resources the Social Security Administration considers as being available to the SSI recipient.

Financial institution accounts include checking or savings, Christmas club, credit union, certificate of deposit, and money market accounts. They can be individual or joint accounts. The title of the account determines who has access to the money in that account.

For a joint account, the Social Security Administration considers the money in the account to belong to you even if the money is not actually yours. You should not be a joint owner of an account with anyone, unless the money in the account is yours. Then it will be counted as a resource subject to the SSI eligibility limits.

If you combine your SSI payments in an account where you also put money held for someone else, the Social Security Administration considers all of the money in the account to be yours. If you receive benefits for someone else, for example, as a representative payee, or you are holding money for someone else in your account (e.g., a TANF payment), it is important that the account be separate from your own bank account and be titled to show that the money is held for someone else. Your Social Security office can tell you how you should title the account.

Follow these simple rules and avoid over-payments!