People with disabilities can save money received through stimulus checks and other COVID-19 relief programs indefinitely without losing out on their Supplemental Security Income benefits thanks to a recent rule change.

The Social Security Administration modified its policy this month on how it will treat various forms of financial assistance that have come about since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Previously, the agency had indicated that the stimulus checks, known as Economic Impact Payments or EIPs, would not be considered income for SSI recipients and that they would be excluded from resources for 12 months. Now, however, that exclusion has no end date.

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“The 12-month time frame for resources no longer applies as these assistance payments provided during the COVID-19 pandemic, including EIPs, meet all the criteria to be considered disaster assistance. By law, disaster assistance is excluded for SSI income and resource determinations,” Darren Lutz, a spokesman for the Social Security Administration, told Disability Scoop.

The federal government has issued three rounds of stimulus payments since the start of the pandemic. The new policy also applies to money received by SSI beneficiaries through some state stimulus payments, unemployment assistance, the emergency rental assistance fund and several other programs.

There are 8 million Americans receiving SSI benefits. The maximum federal payment for individuals is $794 per month, though some states add to that figure. Generally speaking, individuals receiving SSI cannot have more than $2,000 to their name at any given time or they risk losing out on benefits.

The Social Security Administration said that most people who’ve had their SSI benefits adjusted after receiving stimulus payments or financial assistance from one of the other relevant COVID-19 programs will not need to take any action.

“We are reviewing SSI claims and other SSI records going back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to restore SSI payments for people whose SSI was affected,” the agency said.

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