Understanding SSI and Living Arrangements
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based form of federal benefits. Income and asset rules determining eligibility for these benefits can be very complicated. When people with disabilities are receiving other forms of support, it can negatively impact the amount of SSI benefits they could receive.
The SSA considers in-kind support and maintenance (ISM) to be unearned income in the form of food, shelter, or both when SSI eligibility and payment amounts. The SSA follows a prescribed sequence in developing an individual’s living arrangement basis to ensure it uses the correct ISM valuation rule.
SSI Living Arrangement Rules in Kentucky
The SSA states that it can reduce SSI benefits because of living arrangements when a person lives in another person’s house, apartment, or mobile home, and pays less than their “fair share” of food or housing costs. For this reason, SSI beneficiaries need to make sure they have written rental agreements that establish fair shares of these food and housing costs.
SSI benefits are income-based, and limits are based on the federal benefit rate (FBR) that is the same as the maximum SSI payment, or $771 a month for a person and $1,157 a month for a couple as of 2019.
It is vital to understand that money a disabled person receives from a friend or family member can be considered income, but not if there is a written agreement stating that the money was actually a loan.
SSI Living Arrangement Categories
The SSA uses four living arrangement categories to determine payment amounts:
- Living Arrangement A — When a person owns a home, has rental liability or pays a pro-rata share of household expenses, they are considered to be living in their own household, and their benefit is based on 100 percent of the income guarantee. The SSA states that 81 percent of SSI recipients are in living arrangement A.
- Living Arrangement B — A person who lives in someone else’s house and gets both food and shelter from others living there is subject to a one-third reduction in the income guarantee. According to the SSA, about 5 percent of SSI recipients are in living arrangement B.
- Living Arrangement C — Any eligible child younger than 18 years of age who lives with a parent will have a benefit based on 100 percent of the income guarantee. Eligible children are not charged with ISM for food and shelter provided by parents, and the SSA states that 12 percent of SSI recipients are in living arrangement C.
- Living Arrangement D — If an eligible person is living in a public or private medical institution with Medicaid paying over 50 percent of the cost of their care, they are limited to an SSI payment of $30 per month. ISM is not countable for individuals who are in living arrangement D, which the SSA says includes only 2 percent of all SSI recipients.
Homeless people can be entitled to SSI benefits too, up to the maximums allowed by the state. When a person lives in a public shelter, benefits will be available for six of the nine months that a person lives there.
How Different Living Arrangements Affect Your SSI Payments in Kentucky
Keeping in mind the SSA’s policy as it relates to people paying their “fair share,” food and shelter expenses received from a third party can affect SSI benefits. In general, people will be able to get full SSI payments when they live alone or with a spouse and pay all of their living expenses, live with others, and pay their fair share of the food and shelter expenses, or are homeless.
Benefits will be reduced when a person lives in their own home, but another party pays all (or a significant portion) of the living expenses, or they live in somebody else’s house and pay less than their fair share. SSI benefits can also be reduced when people reside in hospitals for a month or more, or a public or private medical treatment facility, and Medicaid pays for more than half of the expenses.
People Living in Kentucky Institutions and SSI
People living in institutions like hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, or jails are not eligible for SSI benefits. They may qualify for the maximum $30 a month, and possibly a state supplement.
If a person is 18 years of age or older, and Medicaid is not paying for more than half of the cost of their care, they are not entitled to any SSI benefit. Children under 18 who enter institutions and Medicaid or private insurance pays for more than half of the cost of their care can receive up to the maximum $30 a month. Children under 18 in institutions for which Medicaid or private insurance does not pay for more than half of the cost of their care will not be eligible for any SSI benefits.
Homeless and Kentucky SSI
A person who is homeless has the same rights and privileges as individuals who are not homeless. SSI benefits can be deposited directly to personal bank accounts, mailed to third parties, directed to Direct Express debit bank cards, or possibly paid to representative payees such as friends or family members chosen by homeless individuals.
When a person is receiving SSI benefits, they could also be able to receive subsidized housing. The SSA has a section of its website dedicated to homelessness and states that Social Security is an active participant in the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH).
Contact Paul Baker Law Office for Help with Your SSI Benefits
Do you need assistance getting SSI benefits in Kentucky? The lawyers at Paul Baker Law Firm understand how frustrating SSI applications can be for people who are very much in need. We are ready to help you get all of the benefits you’re entitled to.
Call us or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a member of our SSI team today.