How Do Living Arrangements Affect SSI?By Kenton Koszdin on September 10, 2023 | In Blogs
Grasping the intricacies of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can be challenging, especially when you’re trying to understand the effects of different living arrangements on your benefits. The Kenton Koszdin Law Office is here to illuminate this multifaceted topic.
Our seasoned Social Security legal team in Los Angeles will walk you through the differences in living conditions that may alter your SSI benefit eligibility. It’s our mission to equip you with the insight you need to make well-informed choices about your housing expenses and arrangements.
Understanding SSI: A Quick Overview
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is distinct from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Both of these federal programs are designed to aid individuals who have limited income and resources. However, someone must work and pay into the program for a certain amount of time to qualify for SSDI benefits.
In contrast, the primary purpose of SSI benefits is to help meet the basic needs of eligible individuals who cannot work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) outlines general eligibility criteria to receive SSI benefits, including financial limits, specific disabilities, and living arrangements.
The amount of the monthly benefit is determined by the cost of living in the recipient’s location, among other factors. Some states supplement the federal SSI payment to help beneficiaries maintain a standard of living that covers essential food or housing costs.
In-Kind Support and Maintenance and Its Impact on SSI
In-kind support and maintenance (ISM) refers to the food or shelter that another party provides for an individual. When determining an individual’s SSI benefit, the SSA considers this in-kind support and maintenance to be income.
For instance, suppose that an adult child lives with a parent and contributes toward their rent, groceries, and electric bill. The SSA will adjust the parent’s SSI payment downward based on this contribution. The monthly benefit could decrease by up to $324.66, depending on the value of assistance received.
However, the SSA excludes in-kind support and maintenance from its calculations if any of the following apply to the recipient:
- Resides alone, lives on SSI alone, and bears all costs for their own shelter expenses.
- Lives solely with their spouse and minor children and receives no external aid for shelter expenses.
- Cohabits with others but covers their fair share of food and shelter costs.
For example, suppose that someone lives with a roommate, splits rent and utility bills evenly, and pays for all of their own food. Although they do not live alone, the SSA should determine that they are not receiving in-kind support and maintenance from the roommate.
SSI Living Arrangement Categories: A Through D Explained
The maximum federal SSI amount an individual receives is influenced by established guidelines. To better clarify how living arrangements affect SSI eligibility, the SSA has defined four categories of such arrangements: A, B, C, and D.
Living Arrangement A
Category A refers to individuals who live in their own house, apartment, or mobile home. It also applies to those who live in someone else’s home but pay for their fair share of food and shelter costs. This category also includes individuals who live in a noninstitutional care situation where the care provider is not legally liable for their support and maintenance.
Most SSI recipients fall under this category. They are eligible for the maximum SSI federal benefit rate, as they bear the full cost of their basic needs.
Living Arrangement B
Some SSI benefit recipients live in another person’s household and receive both food and shelter expenses, or they do not bear the full cost of their basic needs in other ways. As a result, their benefit can be reduced by up to one-third, which is known as the value of the one-third reduction (VTR) rule.
The benefit reduction may be lower than one-third if the recipient can show that the value of any in-kind support and maintenance is lower than a threshold called the presumed maximum value (PMV).
Living Arrangement C
Some SSI recipients are minors who live with and are supported by their parents. In this case, the SSA does not take into account the value of shelter and household expenses, and the recipient will receive the maximum SSI benefit.
Living Arrangement D
Category D applies to those who reside in a public or private medical treatment facility, such as a hospital or nursing home, where Medicaid pays for over half of the cost of their care. For these individuals, the SSI federal benefit rate is significantly reduced, typically to a small personal needs allowance. It is important to note that if the individual leaves the facility, their living arrangement category may change, affecting their SSI benefits.
Homelessness and How It Affects Your SSI Benefits
The Social Security Administration recognizes the unique challenges faced by homeless individuals and has special considerations in place to assist them. The organization defines homeless individuals as those who do not have a fixed, permanent residence as of the first day of the month.
This precarious situation can significantly influence one’s Supplemental Security Income. For instance, the SSA does not count shelter provided by nonprofit organizations as in-kind support and maintenance; therefore, it does not reduce SSI benefits for unhoused people who stay in public shelters. However, homeless individuals may be required to provide accurate documentation to substantiate their status and eligibility for SSI benefits. This includes promptly reporting any changes in their living situations.
Guidelines for Maneuvering SSI Changes Due to Living Conditions
If you are considering a different living arrangement, you should first understand how the change will affect your monthly SSI benefit. Then, make sure that you follow state and federal regulations for reporting the change. Here, we offer insights and pointers to ease your journey.
Promptly Update the SSA
Always inform your local Social Security office of any changes in your household or financial situation, as these changes can significantly impact your SSI benefits. For example, you should inform the Social Security office if you move to a new address, invite family members to live with you, or begin to receive outside help for your living expenses.
Recordkeeping and Documentation
Maintaining accurate and up-to-date records is key. Proper recordkeeping and documentation not only ensures that you receive the correct SSI payment but also protect you in the event of any discrepancies or misunderstandings. Try to keep copies of all correspondence with the SSA, as well as receipts, bills, and other documents related to your living situation and expenses.
Addressing Discrepancies in SSI Adjustments
Addressing discrepancies in SSI adjustments can be a challenging task. If you believe that your SSI benefits have been incorrectly adjusted, it is important to contact the SSA immediately. Provide the agency with all relevant information and documentation to support your claim. Remember, the onus is on you to prove that the adjustment is incorrect.
Navigating SSI with Confidence
Supplemental Security Income is complicated, and the effects of new living arrangements on SSI eligibility are not always clear. With knowledgeable assistance and the right documentation, however, you can receive the benefits you deserve.
The Kenton Koszdin Law Office, spearheaded by adept Social Security attorney Kenton Koszdin, is dedicated to guiding individuals in making well-informed decisions regarding receiving SSI benefits. Reach out to the Kenton Koszdin Law Office today for a free consultation on SSI, SSDI, and other benefits.