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Can living arrangements have an influence on my SSI benefits?

Since Supplemental Security Income is a Social Security Disability program that is meant to benefit people who meet certain requirements based on income and other factors, there are numerous ancillary issues that can affect the benefits and how much is received. New Jersey residents who are seeking or already receiving SSI benefits should be aware of them. One issue is living arrangements.

The living situation can affect the amount of SSI a person receives. If a person is living in their own residence and paying for the costs - food, shelter and other expenses - independent of whether the residence is owned or rented, the maximum amount of SSI is available. A person can also receive the maximum SSI if they are living in the home of another person, provided food and shelter costs are paid by the SSI recipient. Living in someone else's residence and not paying for food and shelter costs or only part of those costs can lead to a reduction in SSI benefits by up to one-third of the federal benefit rate.

SSI eligibility generally hinges on income and not living expenses. If another person is paying the living expenses, it might reduce the SSI. If it is a spouse who lives with the recipient and pays for living expenses, the benefits will not be reduced. The same holds true for a minor child who lives with a parent or guardian providing food and shelter. Only one-third of the maximum federal SSI amount payable per month plus $20 can be counted by the Social Security Administration. SSI benefits will not be reduced for household items, such as a toaster. Nor will it be reduced for modest jewelry or clothing.

Institutionalized people who are in a hospital, nursing home, prison or jail cannot get SSI and can only receive $30 monthly. There are exceptions if the institutionalization is temporary. These exceptions will be discussed in a later post. Homeless people can also get the maximum SSI. They might also be able to get subsidized housing. For those in a public shelter, the SSI benefits can be received for as many as six out of nine months they are residing there.

Disabled individuals who meet the requirements to get SSI benefits must be cognizant of these issues. If they are not, they could have a reduction in their benefits or lose them altogether. For help with any matter related to Supplemental Security Income, a legal professional experienced in all aspects of SSI is essential.

Source: ssa.gov, "Spotlight On Living Arrangements -- 2017 Edition," accessed on Aug. 28, 2017

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