Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, provides very low-income blind, disabled and old people with enough money to meet their basic needs. Recipients can use SSI benefits to pay for shelter, food and clothing. It's a needs-based program, so applicants must provide financial information to qualify. While people on SSI can have joint bank accounts, the Social Security Administration considers any money in those accounts to belong to the applicant.
If both account holders receive SSI -- a married couple, for example -- the SSA considers each account holder to have equal shares. That means in an account with a $1,000 balance, each account holder owns $500 of that money. If one account holder is an SSI recipient and the other is not, the SSA counts the entire amount as the SSI recipient's money.
Account holders can "rebut" SSA's contention that all of the money in the account belongs to the SSI recipient, but this process involves providing the SSA with proof that the non-SSI recipient legitimately put her own funds into the joint account. The SSI recipient must submit a statement documenting which individual made withdrawals and deposits, the reason for a joint account, and how any withdrawn funds were spent by the SSI recipient or claimant. Filing rebuttals can be complicated, so call your local SSA office for assistance.