Published on: January 11, 2017
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Social Security program that can help disabled Americans who cannot qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) because of their work history meet their basic financial needs.
While not as robust as SSDI, SSI provides a vital support for many Americans in need of a stable source of income. However, there are many rules governing SSI which can complicate whether a person can qualify for SSI, and how much they can receive in SSI payments.
One major factor that can affect your SSI payments is your current living arrangement.
How Different Living Arrangements Affect Your SSI Payments
You can receive your full SSI payment under the following living arrangements:
- If you live alone or with a spouse and pay all of your living expenses (food, shelter, etc.);
- If you live with others and pay what the SSA terms “your share of the food and shelter expenses;” OR
- If you are homeless, you can receive your full SSI benefits. NOTE: if you reside in a shelter, you can get your full benefit payment for 6 months out of any 9-month period you reside in a public shelter.
Situations where your living arrangements may cause your benefits to be reduced include:
- You live in someone else’s home and pay less than your “fair share” of the food or housing expenses;
- You live in your own home, but someone else pays all (or a significant part) of the living expenses (food, shelter, etc.);
- You are in a hospital or nursing for a month or more and Medicaid pays more than half your expenses. If you are a child, this includes both private insurance and Medicaid; OR
- You reside in a public or private medical treatment facility and Medicaid covers more than half of your cost of care. Also, as noted by the SSA, “If you are in the facility for the whole month, your SSI benefit is limited to $30 (plus any supplementary State payment).”
Basically, if your living arrangement has someone else paying for a significant portion of your living expenses, then your SSI benefit will be reduced by up to a third.
If you’re considering changing your living arrangements, such as moving in with a relative or friend, carefully measure the benefits of this arrangement against the impact to your income.
Also, if you do start living with a friend or relative, and are contributing to the household expenses, be sure to carefully document your contributions. Having a record of a paid bill can help prevent a reduction in your SSI payments.
Homelessness and Your SSI Benefits
Since SSI benefits are based on income rather than permanent living arrangements, homeless SSI recipients can typically receive their full payment amount despite unstable living conditions. For those living in public shelter situations, full SSI benefit payments can continue for up to 6 out of any 9 months spent living there. If you are currently homeless, you can ensure your full benefits continue by having benefits deposited directly, sent to a representative payee, directed through a Direct Express debit card or sent to a third party.
Despite the ways your current living arrangement can affect your SSI benefit amount, there are steps you can take to make sure you receive your maximum benefits. One of these crucial steps is contacting a SSI expert in your area, who can help you outline your options and structure your living arrangements in the most advantageous manner possible for your personal situation.
We here at Disability Experts of Florida hope that this blog helps answer some of your questions. For more help and advice, be sure to contact us as soon as possible!