Property ownership has long been a significant consideration in determining access to social security. The aim of this paper is to investigate how both ownership and access to productive resources in rural areas can influence the types of social security services and benefits that are allocated. The argument is that whilst it is common that formulae for assessing the property values tend to be fixed by central regulations, there still remain significant areas of discretionary decision making over the exact value of rural productive resources as well as the consequences this has for determining the scope of beneficiaries of social security. The paper explores the ways in which the exact process of valuation and discretion are worked out in the context of changing relations between local, regional and central state actors. The paper draws on a series of case studies from Hungary, Serbia and Romania as part of the “Local State and Social Security in Rural Hungary, Romania, and Serbia” project, led by the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle and funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, 2008-2011.