In most cases, a determination on the conservatorship or block account can be made
by applying state law as described above. The issue can be resolved without further
In some cases, there may be allegations or evidence to the contrary. These situations
will require obtaining more information and evidence and the adjudicator's evaluation
of the facts.
The presumption of availability of funds can be nullified if the court order establishing
the conservatorship specifically blocks the account from use for food, clothing or
shelter. If a subsequent order blocks the account, inquire whether the court did so
only at the conservator's request and whether it can be repealed at the conservator's
request. In some cases, it may be alleged that some requests for the distribution
of funds have been denied. In such instances, it may be necessary to evaluate the
denied petition and whether there is a pattern of denials.
A court may deny a specific request for funds despite the fact that all or most previous
requests were approved. For example, the court may refuse a petition for funds for
a purpose considered unnecessary or frivolous (i.e., to purchase an expensive piece
of jewelry). Such a denial does not necessary preclude a determination that the funds
in the account are available for the individual's support and maintenance, and as
such are resources for SSI purposes. In such an instance, the FO adjudicator should
review the history of petitions for any approvals and denials of the release of funds
from the account. If the denial of an individual petition appears to be an exception
rather than the rule, the funds may be determined to be resources for SSI purposes.
The judgment of the adjudicator is a key factor in this determination.
In making determinations, the adjudicator may need to fully develop the circumstances
of the situation. The adjudicator needs to consider the reasons leading to the creation
of the account, uses to which the funds must or may be put, who can access the funds,
and the degree of difficulty and time required to secure release of the funds. These
factors and any other pertinent information must be considered in deciding whether
the funds count as a resource. If documents exist detailing the creation of the account
(i.e., court order establishing conservatorship), or if state statutes setting forth
conditions for release and uses of released funds are applicable, then those documents
and statutes would be relevant to the resource determination. The file should be documented
with the adjudicator's determination on a SSA-553.