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How does my living situation affect my SSI?

**Beginning September 30, 2024, support in the form of food will no longer be considered as In-Kind Support and Maintenance when calculating SSI.**

The SSI cash benefit helps pay for basic living expenses, such as food, shelter, and some utilities. 

If somebody helps pay for some or all your living expenses, Social Security may consider this assistance as “In-Kind Support and Maintenance.”  In-Kind Support and Maintenance can reduce your SSI cash benefit amount. 

In 2024, the maximum SSI amount is $943 per month. If your SSI is less than this, and you do not have any income, the reduction in your SSI may be due to you receiving (or Social Security believing you receive) In-Kind Support and Maintenance.

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Some adults do not have money to pay for food and shelter and are living with family when they first apply for SSI. When they become eligible for SSI, they receive a reduced benefit check.

The SSI cash benefit helps pay for basic living expenses, such as food, shelter, and some utilities. 

If somebody helps pay for some or all your living expenses, Social Security may consider this assistance as “In-Kind Support and Maintenance.”  In-Kind Support and Maintenance can reduce your SSI cash benefit amount. 

In 2024, the maximum SSI amount is $943 per month. If your SSI is less than this, and you do not have any income, the reduction in your SSI may be due to you receiving (or Social Security believing you receive) In-Kind Support and Maintenance. 

How much will my SSI check be reduced?

If you are living in another person’s home and you are not paying for food and shelter, Social Security can reduce your SSI check by one third.

An example of what living with a relative would mean for SSI.

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If you receive assistance with only food or only shelter, your SSI may be reduced by the value of that support. (The value is considered unearned income.) The reduction will never be greater than one-third of your SSI cash benefit.

Shelter costs include certain utilities, like electricity or gas. If someone else is paying those costs, it can also reduce your SSI.

An example of Monthly Costs that would qualify.
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An older gentleman picking out groceries at a store.

Will my Basic Food benefit cause my SSI amount to go down?

No. Public benefit programs, like Basic Food, low-income utility assistance, and Section 8 housing, are usually not considered In-Kind Support and Maintenance and will not reduce your SSI

How do I report a change in my living situation?

You can report a change by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or by visiting your local Social Security office.  Changes you should report include moving to a new address, or if you start or stop receiving help with your living costs. 

Social Security may ask you questions about your food, rent, and utility costs. They may also ask for records, such as rental agreements and utility bills.

My living situation

Different living situations may have different rules. Here are examples of living situations and how they might affect SSI. These examples only look at living situations and do not consider how other income might reduce your SSI.

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My situation…

When parents of children under age 18 pay for the child’s food and shelter, the payment is not considered In Kind Support and Maintenance. A child’s SSI will not be reduced.

When parents of children under age 18 pay for the child’s food and shelter, the payment is not considered In Kind Support and Maintenance. A child’s SSI will not be reduced.

Sometimes, parents are not comfortable charging for food and shelter. However, if you are not paying for food and shelter, you may receive a smaller SSI check. 

If your parents wish to charge you for your living costs, they can do so in a few ways. They may charge you rent and ask you to pay for (and store) food separately, or they might create a written agreement where you pay a flat rate for food, shelter, and utilities. Rates for food and shelter should be at market value to be considered legitimate.

If you live on your own and pay for all your food and shelter costs, your SSI should not be reduced. If you use Basic Food and Section 8 to help with your costs, those benefits will not be considered In-Kind Support and Maintenance, and your SSI will not be affected.

If you receive support from others outside of the home to help pay for your food and shelter, Social Security may consider this support In-kind Support and Maintenance. 

If both spouses are eligible for SSI, there is another layer of rules to be aware of. 

When both spouses receive SSI, they qualify for an SSI Couple benefit amount. In 2024, the largest SSI amount a couple can receive is $1,415. Each spouse will get half this amount. 

You may notice that the SSI Couple amount is less than two times the individual rate of $943. This is because Social Security assumes a couple will have lower living expenses because they share living costs. 

SSI Couple rules can apply to a couple who are not legally married but are seen widely by others as being married.

If you live with a roommate or roommates and you pay for your full share of food and shelter, you may qualify for the full SSI benefit. 

Social Security may divide the household costs by the number of roommates and then look at how much you are paying.

Adult Family Homes and other types of Adult Living Facilities provide food, shelter, and in-home care.  These living situations are often funded in part by Medicaid. The cost for your food and shelter is set by the State. SSI amounts are often not affected in these living situations.

If you expect to live in a nursing home, hospital, or other medical facility for less than 90 days, and you need to maintain a home where you will return after leaving, you may receive the full SSI check during your stay. It is important that you communicate with Social Security in this situation. Visit this Social Security webpage for more information. 

In most other cases, if you are living in a medical facility, and Medicaid is paying for at least half of the costs of your care, you will receive $30 SSI per month.

If you are homeless, you may receive up to the maximum SSI amount.  If you live in a public shelter, you can receive SSI benefits for up to 6 months out of any 9 months that you live there. 

For more information on homelessness, visit the SSI Spotlight on Homelessness.

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