How can they pay for my treatment without bollixing my SSDI?
September 22, 2010 9:13 AM   Subscribe

How can I accept money from a relative for medical costs without screwing up my SSDI?

I am broke and on SSDI. Medicare doesn't kick in until more than a year from now. I have some heavy dentistry that needs taking care of yesterday; an out-of-state relative has offered a wad of cash to pay for it. What way is best to handle the transfer of money so as to not screw up my disability payments? Bank transfer? An account in their name that I have a debit card for? Suitcases of cash?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total)
Why not pass on the bill to them, or have them write a check directly to the dentist's office? If there's money required at time of services you could explain the situation and ask for an estimate of the amount that'll be charged in advance. If they won't accept an out of state check, then your relative may be able to directly all the dentist's office.
posted by mikeh at 9:28 AM on September 22, 2010

how about just having him/her pay the dentist directly?
posted by HuronBob at 9:28 AM on September 22, 2010

I don't think that anything's foolproof. But, what I'd do is have said relative pay the bill for you in cash at the point of service. It seems to be the least trackable or traceable way to handle it, since you're not going to be in possession of any new money.

I warn you again - this is not foolproof, and you may still be busted. If it was me, I don't know if I would do it at all.

Thinking out of the box - can you arrange a payment plan with the dentist where you give them what you can afford, monthly?
posted by Citrus at 9:32 AM on September 22, 2010

Are you on SSI or SSDI? If it's SSDI, I'm not sure it would be a problem; I believe assets don't interfere with SSDI because SSDI is based on your being disabled, not you not having money. Unearned income may not be a problem either. I am not an expert, though, just someone aware that there are different guidelines for the two types of assistance (which some people don't realize.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:55 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Again, I'd do more research if I were you, but this page suggests even a gift of money won't hurt your SSDI payment:
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:57 AM on September 22, 2010

OP, you really, really need to get a lawyer on this.
posted by availablelight at 10:05 AM on September 22, 2010

Even SSI (which, as needs more cowbell points out, is more stringent re: income) allows your medical bills to be paid by a third party without it affecting your benefits.

I think the suggestion of having the relative pay the dentist directly is your best course of action.
posted by katemonster at 10:17 AM on September 22, 2010

I would agree that having the relative directly pay the dentist is the best course of action.

While I can't really speak about SSDI I do know that at least if the relative directly pays the dentists bill it cannot be treated as income to you by the IRS and it also doesn't count as a gift by the relative to you.
posted by Twinedog at 11:19 AM on September 22, 2010

I work with SSDI quite a bit, but, of course, I am not advising you. You are not my client. But, if a client brought me the same scenario, here is what I would tell them:

Never have the money in your possession. A third party paying a bill does not effect your SSDI, but the flow of cash through your bank accounts could. Your relative should pay the dentist directly.
posted by hworth at 12:46 PM on September 22, 2010

SSDI isn't need-based and doesn't have an asset limit. As long as you aren't earning money, you should be fine. This is not true for SSI. If you want to try to get advice on this from an attorney, go to and call the legal services providers in your zip code.
posted by Mavri at 10:12 AM on September 23, 2010

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