Many people receive a reduced SSI check and don’t know why. Or don’t even realize it is happening.
This is especially common for people who live with friends or family, or for families who have disabled children age 18 or older.
It also sometime happens to people who are homeless or transitional, people who are paying the wrong amount of rent or mortgage, or anyone who was never told the SSI rent rules (read: nearly everyone).
Luckily, you have come to the right place to figure some stuff out!
What Is Maximum SSI?
Before you start, it may be really handy to know if you are currently receiving the highest amount of SSI possible. The maximum amount is different in different states. How Much is Maximum SSI?
How Mortgage, Rent and Utilities Affect SSI
The amount of rent you pay (or don’t pay) can have a big impact on your SSI check.
If you are currently receiving maximum SSI, your check can go down if you stop paying your correct share of rent or mortgage.
If you are currently receiving reduced SSI, your check can go up if you start paying your correct share of rent or mortgage.
Do These Rules Apply to Me?
The rules on this page only apply to SSI, if you are on SSDI, feel free to ignore everything here. How to Tell What You’re On
Can’t I Just Pay The Rent My Landlord is Charging and Skip All These Rules?
Maybe! You can just pay your rent and skip all these rules if:
- Your landlord charges you a rent that is similar to what they might charge anyone else
- You live alone or
- You live with just your spouse and you or your spouse pay all the rent or
- You live with your kids and you pay all the rent or
- You live with your kids and spouse and you or spouse pay all the rent or
- You live with other people but the homeowner does not live there. You have your own lease for your room and you pay the homeowner for the room. Plus you pay your share of the utilities (unless they are included in the rent).
What Happens If I Don’t Pay My Share?
If you do not pay your share of household expenses. Your SSI check is lowered by up to one-third. This is called “In Kind Support and Maintenance.” See below for details on how to determine which household expenses count, and how to determine your share.
How Can I Afford Rent?
If you can’t afford rent, check out this page. Assistance from government programs will not affect your SSI check, but it will give you an affordable place to live. For someone on SSI, rent will typically be $215 per month including utilities (or $100 per month plus utilities). Section 8 Guide for the Disabled and Plucky
For Children on SSI
If your child is under the age of 18, you may not have to read all these rules right now! But you will still need to read them before your child turns 18. You do not have to worry about these rules if your child is under 18 and all rent or mortgage and utilities are paid by:
- A parent who lives with the child or
- Child’s SSI check or
- A government program
This rules may impact your child’s SSI if:
- Rent, mortgage or utilities are paid by a parent who does not live with child
- Rent, mortgage or utilities are paid by another relative
- Rent, mortgage or utilities are paid by someone else
- Someone is giving you or your child a free place to live
For People Still Applying
If you are still applying for SSI and not yet approved, your living situation can affect your backpay. There are a few policies that can be helpful in this situation. Learn more about: How to Apply for SSI Without Falling into Quicksand
How Do I Figure Out My Share of Household Expenses?
If you live alone, figuring out your share is simple. You just pay everything. Done!. If you live with just your spouse and other people, it gets a lot more complicated.
- What Are Household Expenses?
- What Counts as a Household Expense (and what doesn’t count!)
- Your Share of Rent or Mortgage
- Can I Pay More Than My Share?
- Do I Need to Pay For My Kids Share?
- You live with your parents and your parents own the home
- You live with your friend and your friend owns the home
- You live with another family member who owns the home
- You rent a room in someone’s house and the landlord lives there
- How Do I Correct an SSI Check?
- What Should I Bring to an SSI Appointment?
- How Long Does It Take For a Check to Change?
- “I tried correcting my check. But I’m having a problem.”
- Rent while waiting for your SSI check to change
- Rent while waiting to be approved for SSI
- Rental loan agreements
- Rental Loan Agreements are sometimes used by people living with friends or family while applying for SSI.
- They can also be used by people already on SSI living while waiting for SSI to be redetermined.
Times when someone else can pay your household expenses without impacting SSI:
- Exception: Living with your spouse
- Exception: Government or nonprofit programs
- Exception: ABLE accounts
- Exception: Loans from family, friends, or anyone
- Exception: Student loans
- How Much Will My SSI Check Be if I Am Homeless?
- “I Live Alone”
- “I live with my child and my child collects SSI”
- “I Live with Other People (Kids, Relatives, Friends, etc)”
- “I am getting discounted rent through HUD, Section 8, or another agency”
- “I am living with a boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife”
- “I live in a room in a house owned by my mother, father, sister, etc”
- “I live with a friend or family member. They are renting.”
- How Can I Find a Place I Can Afford on SSI?
- I own my house. Can I rent out a room and charge rent?
- “Wait! I Do Not Pay Rent. Why Am I Getting Maximum SSI?”
- “Why do some people get reduced SSI and some people get maximum SSI?”
- Joe Lives with His Friends
- Suzy Lives with Her Mom
- Jake Lives with His Mom
- Sally Lives in Section 8
Social Security Policies
Here is where you can find links to all Social Security policies on SSI rent determinations: https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0500835000
What Happens If My Situation Changes?
If your housing or rent situation changes, you should contact SSI to report any changes and request an SSI Redetermination Interview. They will ask you questions about your finances, and change your check to the correct amount. Your check may go up or down, depending on the change. You can change your rental agreements at any time and you can contact SSI and request a redetermination any time. You do not have to move for your rental agreement to change.
Other types of changes to your living situation can also affect your SSI check, such as getting married, getting divorced, separating from you spouse, living with more people, living with less people, etc. You can learn more about this and much more on this page about SSI Regulations.
What Do You Think?
Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.
Updated May 2018. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons: