Supplemental Security Income payments or SSI are relied upon by over 8 million Americans every year. This is more than 2.6% of the overall population. What are SSI payments for? Supplemental Security Income is paid to Americans, or their children, who have a disability. Seniors with disabilities can also collect this supplemental income each month to help with the cost of living. Once you are a part of the SSI program, the Social Security Administration has access to your personal finances. But why does Social Security check your bank account?

The reason that Social Security checks your bank account is they are simply monitoring how much money you have in the account. It isn’t to ask you where you got your money from. The agency needs to check your balances to ensure you are making below the threshold to qualify for SSI. Unfortunately, there is no way around this and you must provide consent so that the Social Security Administration can access the balance of your bank account

With so many Americans relying on Social Security each year, it makes sense that there is a security check to prevent fraudulent claims. These searches and checks are carried out by a process called AFI or the Access to Financial Institutions process. If you have ever wondered why and how often the SSI checks your bank account, we’ve got the answers for you!

Why Does Social Security Check Your Bank Account?

Since Social Security is providing you with extra income assistance, the agency also wants to keep track of your personal finances. You might be wondering why. Well, to qualify for SSI there is a certain threshold you must meet. This means that you must be below a certain level of earned income every month. 

The Social Security Administration does have special software that is able to quickly scan your bank account balance. If it is at a reasonable level, then no red flags will come up. But, if for some reason your bank account balance is much higher than usual, they may have some questions for you. 

It isn’t just your account balance that the Social Security Administration is looking for. There is a whole list of criteria that goes into qualifying for the SSI program. Other factors include your resources or assets, age requirements, and a legitimate physical disability. For children, the Social Security Administration will take into account the parent’s bank account and earnings. 

How Often Does Social Security Check Your Bank Account?

There isn’t really a set interval or timeframe that they check your account. This is so that there is no opportunity for you to prepare for the account check. People can easily empty their bank account of funds if they know that the Social Security Administration is about to conduct a scan of their balance. 

Related Financial Geek Article: Why (And When) Do Banks Ask Why You’re Withdrawing Money? Find out why a bank might want to know about your withdrawals.

Typically, you can usually expect to have your account checked every year. Once you have been in the system for a while, this might shift to every few years. Still, you should know that the Social Security Administration can check your account at any time, even if they already checked it this year. This is why it pays to be honest when applying for government services. 

Why Can Social Security Check Your Bank Account?

It is actually a direct stipulation of joining the Social Security program. If you do not allow the Social Security Administration to have access, you will not qualify for any assistance. This is how they ensure that most people that are approved for Social Security are not trying to take advantage of the system.

Approving them to access your bank account is a part of the initial application. In 1999, Congress passed an amendment to the Social Security Act. This is the amendment that provides the Social Security Administration to check bank accounts. In 2003, the Social Security Administration officially enacted this for the Social Security Income program. 

Don’t worry, the Social Security Administration isn’t doing anything unsavoury with your bank account. In fact, they do not have any ability to withdraw funds for obvious reasons. They can only deposit your monthly Social Security Income payments or check your outstanding account balance. It is an electronic process that confirms the balance with the financial institution itself. You will not have your funds frozen or locked, even though a bank can legally refuse to give you your money if it has a reason to.

Which Accounts Does Social Security Check?

Obviously, when we talk about bank accounts, we are talking about your standard savings or checking accounts. But Social Security has more access than that! They can even check Christmas club accounts, credit unions, certificates of deposit, and even money market accounts. 

They can also check joint accounts which can have an impact on those who are married or in a relationship. The impact of having SSI with a joint account is that your total income allowed is actually lower. In terms of resources, an individual can have up to $2,000 in their account but a couple is capped at $3,000. These resources can include anything from stocks to land to vehicles and even life insurance. 

The best course of action? Be honest and follow the rules and regulations of the Social Security program. If you really do need income assistance each month then it is in your best interest to abide by the rules. Trying to pull a fast one on a government agency is never a long-term winning strategy!

The Bottom Line: How Often and Why Does Social Security Check Your Bank Account?

The simplest answer is to ensure that you are following the regulations of the program. Social Security Income is meant to help those who truly need it. In this case, for those with a disability that cannot earn the same level of income. If you are signing up for Social Security, just know that you have to grant them access to your bank account. Otherwise, you won’t be included in the Social Security program!

I hope this helped! Thanks for the read!

Geek, out. 

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