Household Goods
The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines household goods as items that are the beneficiary’s personal property that is found in or near the beneficiary’s home and is used regularly. The Social Security Administration does not count household goods as resource to the individual (and spouse) if items fall under their definition of household goods.Some examples of such items include (not an exhaustive list):

  • Appliances (Microwave, Refrigerator, dishwasher, etc.)
  • Furniture (Bed, Sofa, etc.)
  • Electronic Equipment (Computer, Television, etc.)
  • Carpets
  • Cooking and eating utensils
  • Dishes

It must be noted that the Social Security Administration (SSA) states the following regarding household goods,
“Items that an individual acquires or holds because of their value or investment are not household goods, even if they otherwise meet the definition of household goods in SI 01130.430C.1.

Personal Effects
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) personal effects are such items that are personal property to the beneficiary that are worn or carried by the individual, or that have an intimate relation to the individual. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not count personal effects as resources to an individual (and spouse) if the items fall under the above definition of personal effects.

Some examples of personal effect items include (not an exhaustive list):

  • Personal jewelry that is worn, which includes wedding and engagement rings
  • Toiletries
  • Clothing
  • Pets
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Musical instruments
  • Recreational items
  • Educational items
  • Hobby materials (crafts, games)
  • Items that have religious or cultural importance
  • Prosthetic devices or wheelchairs that a beneficiary requires

Note the following statement regarding personal effects by the Social Security Administration (SSA):
“Items that an individual acquires or holds because of their value, or as an investment, are not personal effects; even if they otherwise meet the definition of personal effects in SI 01130.430C.2.

What About Other Personal Property?
Other personal property may count as a resource to the beneficiary. The way in which it may count is if an individual holds the property or items because of its value or investment. If the item is not excluded under another provision it will be considered a countable resource, and if it does not fall under the Social Security Administration’s definition of a household good or personal effect.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides the following examples of other personal property:

  • Gems
  • Jewelry that an individual does not wear
  • Jewelry that individual does not hold for family significance
  • Animals for investment purposes (breeding, resale)
  • Collectibles

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides a specific example regarding how a claims representative deciphers between personal effects, household goods, and other personal property. This example can be found on https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0501130430#c2.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided by CPT is for informational purposes only and is intended to be used as a non-legal guide prior to consultation with an attorney familiar with your specific legal situation. CPT is not engaged in the practice of law or in rendering legal advice or counsel. No such legal advice or counseling is either expressly or impliedly intended. This form is not a substitute for the advice or counsel of an attorney. If you require legal advice, you should seek the services of an attorney. © 2017 CPT All rights reserved.

​Sources/Further Reading:
20 CFR 416.1216 – https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/416/416-1216.htm
Excluded Resources SI 01110.210 https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0501110210
Urbatsch, K., & Fuller, M. (2016). Administering the California special needs trust: A guide for trustees and those who advise them (2nd ed.). Bloomington, IN: IUniverse.