• Stephanie O. Joy, Esq. / Joy Disability

If You Get Free Rent From Family While on SSI, You May Want To Start Paying Rent. Here is why:

If you are collecting SSI, but are living with someone who doesn’t charge you rent (such as family, significant other, etc.), you are receiving “in kind” support. As you may know, nearly any income you receive in a particular month is counted to reduce the welfare you receive known as SSI, for that same month. This is certainly true of cash receipts, generally. But it is also true of shelter, food, etc. So, when it is learned that you are NOT paying your proportionate share of the shelter you are living in, the SSA will generally reduce your SSI payment accordingly – up to 1/3. What to do? Well, here is what I would do. I would figure out what my share is, and I’d make an arrangement with my provider to pay such ‘rent’. “But, I can’t afford $600 of my $733 benefit? That only leaves me with $133.” True, (and often the proportionate share may be less) but once you pay your rent of $600, there is no prohibition on your family using that money for your benefit – so long as they don’t GIVE you the cash or other countable items. But they can pay your cell phone bill directly, buy you a car (only 1), take you on vacation, buy you your clothing, put gas in your car, treat you to the movies or buy you a flat screen TV, make a savings account NOT in your name, and later use it to buy you a home you can afford to live and upkeep. In other words, they charge you rent, but that may provide them the ability, if they really do not want the rent money, to use it for your permitted expenses (but not those unpermitted). So you end up legitimately with $733 in “stuff” per month, instead of the $500 or so you’d otherwise be getting.


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