Social Security Proposes Changes to SSI In Kind Support & Maintenance Rules

September 06, 2023

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a different standard to determine Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for people in different states. Now SSA is proposing to update it rules to treat beneficiaries more equitably.

As a welfare payment, SSI is meant primarily to provide food and shelter support to individuals receiving it (although SSI can be used for other purposes). As such, if the SSI recipient is receiving free or reduced cost food and shelter that is considered "income" for SSI purposes, called In Kind Support & Income (ISM). ISM is considered unearned income, reducing SSI dollar-for-dollar up to a cap of 1/3 of the SSI payment ($914 for 2023). Given the housing shortage for individuals with disabilities, many adults are living with family members rent-free, incurring ISM. In 2023, an individual who has ISM has their SSI reduced by $324.66/mo.

In order to not have this reduction, the SSI recipient would need to pay "appropriate" rent. This can be done in one of two ways:

  • Pay a pro-rata share of certain household expenses (rent or mortgage, property taxes, heating fuel, gas, electric, water, sewer and garbage removal); or
  • Pay market rent

In many communities, the pro-rata share of expenses would be more than the SSI they are receiving, so many individuals cannot use that method. In others, the market rent for a room in a private home can be difficult to assess, and can also be higher than the received SSI.

However, due to court cases challenging the ISM rules in the the Seventh Circuit (affecting IL, IN and WI), the Second Circuit (affecting CT, NY and VT) and Texas, SSA applies a different rule for residents of CT, NY, VT, IL, IN, WI and TX. In those states any rent above the Presumed Maximum Value (PMV), which is 1/3 the max SSI value plus $20 ($324.66 for 2023) is considered a "business arrangement" and satisfies SSI's definition of "appropriate rent". In those 7 states, charging at least $324.66 in rent in 2023 will get rid of the ISM reduction to SSI.

On August 24, 2023, SSA proposed to apply the "business arrangement" standard to rent that exceeds PMV to all 50 states. SSA is taking comments through 10/23/2023. Make you feelings known that this rule changes should pass. You can read the full text of the proposed rule change here.

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