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Supplemental Security Income and raising money for medical care

The website GoFundMe is a great way to raise extra cash for different causes. For example, many people use the site to raise money for various medical treatments that they wouldn't be able to afford otherwise. Or, they might use the site to raise money to fund a party or special trip.

As useful as GoFundMe is, however, Minneapolis residents should be aware that raising money on websites like this could result in the loss of Social Security Income (SSI) benefits. One devoted mother in Washington is being threatened with this kind of a problem after she used GoFundMe to raise nearly $16,000 for her daughter who is suffering from aggressive cancer. Now, she could lose her SSI benefits, which she relies on to pay for her and her two children's basic needs.

The data entry worker and mother of two used the site because she wanted to raise $10,000 to help pay for her daughter's surprise sweet 16 party, and to help pay for their family's Make-a-Wish vacation in London. Her 16-year-old daughter suffers from an aggressive kind of bone cancer called osteocarcoma.

The 41-year-old mother was homeless and living in a local church basement with her two teenage children at the time she started her GoFundMe campaign in December 2014. She did not know that seeking donations would be considered by the SSI department as a financial resource that could disqualify her, but that is exactly what happened.

The Social Security administration has advised the mother that if she takes the donated money, it will be seen as income and she might lose her ability to receive SSI -- benefits that help her pay for her daughter's medical bills. Her SSI income only amounts to approximately $814 per month, but it is vital to her ability support herself and her family.

As evidenced by the story above, before accepting any kind of donation, it is important for Minnesota SSI recipients to first consult with an SSI benefits attorney who is familiar with these matters. During this free case review, the attorney will be able to advise you whether an SSI recipient's benefits are threatened by a donation or not.

Source: fox46charlotte.com, "Woman faced losing state assistance after raising money for daughter with aggressive cancer," Feb. 04, 2016

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