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A Guide to Recent Regulatory Changes Expanding Access to SSI

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has recently finalized three significant Supplemental Security Income (SSI) rules that aim to reduce barriers and expand access to SSI benefits. These rules particularly impact in-kind support and maintenance (ISM) determinations, affecting individuals who may be receiving assistance with food or shelter. The changes are designed to facilitate access to SSI benefits for older adults and individuals with disabilities residing in low-income households. Effective September 30, 2024, these rules will bring about several important modifications:

  1. Expanding the Definition of a “Public Assistance” Household:

    • Currently, individuals residing in households where all members received “public assistance” benefits were not subject to evaluations regarding in-kind support from other household members.

    • Change 1: The inclusion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as a public assistance benefit.

    • Change 2: Redefining a public assistance household to include households where at least one member receives a public assistance benefit, broadening the scope of households exempt from detailed evaluations by the SSA regarding in-kind support.

  2. Omitting Food from In-Kind Support Calculations:

    • Currently, food from non-excluded sources, such as from family and friends, was considered in-kind income and could reduce an individual’s SSI benefits.

    • Change: Food will no longer be counted as income, regardless of the source, thereby ensuring that food received from friends and family does not diminish an individual’s SSI benefits.

  3. Expanding the Rental Subsidy Rule:

    • Currently, in most states, if an SSI individual rents from a relative, SSA evaluates whether the individual is paying below market rent, potentially reducing SSI benefits.

    • Change: If an SSI individual pays rent equal to or exceeding the “Presumed Maximum Value,” SSA will assume a “business arrangement” and will not reduce SSI benefits.

These changes signify a significant shift in SSI policy, with the overarching goal of expanding access to benefits forthose who need them most. As advocates, it is crucial to understand the intricacies of these rule changes to better assist our clients. In the coming months, we will provide additional resources to aid in comprehending the details of these changes and their implications for our clients. (ResourceRegulatory Changes to In-Kind Support Rules Expand Access to SSI (justiceinaging.org)

About the APILO’s Elder and Disability Rights Project:

APILO’s Elder and Disability Rights Project provides legal services in a variety of areas to assist elders and individuals with disabilities to receive public benefits and live a life free from abuse. The Elder Team works to both to prevent abuse towards elders and people with disabilities and to assist survivors of abuse. We work closely with senior centers, churches, and senior meal sites to keep our services accessible. With a team of exemplary attorneys and dedicated staff, the team provides a wide range of legal services, including naturalization assistance, other immigration cases, elder abuse, estate planning, eviction defense, conservatorship, guardianship, and restraining orders to name a few.

If you want to learn more about what our team does, please feel free to reach out to us.

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