How Much Rent to Pay on SSI

If your SSI check is lower than maximum, it may be because you are not paying your correct share of household expenses.

If your child’s check is lower than maximum, this may be because your child is not paying the correct share of household expenses.

What Is Maximum SSI?

Maximum SSI is $735 in most states. In Michigan, New Jersey and Vermont it is $750-$800. It is $890 in California. The amount is the same for children and adults.

What Happens If I Don’t Pay The Right Amount of Rent or Mortgage?

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 your share of household expenses.

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 do not have to move for your situation to change. According to the SSI policies, you are allowed to pay rent where you are already living. It is very common for people with disabilities to rent a room from a friend or family member. If you are not yet approved for disability or do not yet have enough income, see links below on rental loan agreements.

For families with minor children, you are allowed to use the child’s SSI check to cover the child’s share of household expenses. This is the child’s way of “paying rent.” You are also allowed to use other money that belongs to the child (such as child support or money in an ABLE account) to pay the child’s share.

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.

How Do I Figure Out My Share of Household Expenses?

Good question. Social Security will be looking to see if anyone pays your rent, food, or utilities, or gives you free rent, food, or utilities. This is called “in kind support and maintenance” and will lower your check. If you live alone, figuring out your share is simple. If you live with other people, it gets a lot more complicated!

Step One: Figuring Out Your Household Expenses

  • What Are Household Expenses and Why Are They Important?
  • What Counts as a Household Expense (and what doesn’t count!)

Step Two: Figuring Out Your Share

  • Your Share of Rent
  • Your Share of Mortgage
  • What if There is No Mortgage, or if the Mortgage is SUPER HIGH? 
  • Can I Pay More Than My Share?
  • Do I Need to Pay For My Kids Share?

Special Exceptions 

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: Homelessness
  • Exception: Loans from family, friends, or anyone
  • Exception: Student loans

Step Three: Making Sure Your SSI Check is Correct

  • How Do I Correct an SSI Check?
  • What Should I Bring to an SSI Appointment?
  • Rental Loan Agreements
  • “I am renting a room in someone’s house. I do not have mortgage information.”
  • “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?”
  • “I tried correcting my check. But I’m having a problem.” 

Frequently Asked Questions & Special Circumstances

  • “I Can’t Afford Rent… Yet”
  • “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?

Example #1 – Suzy Lives With Her Mom

Suzy is disabled and lives in an house owned by her mother. The household expenses are:

Mortgage – 700

Property Tax – 50

Insurance – 50

Gas – 100

Electric – 50

Water / Sewer – 40

Garbage removal – 10

Total Household expenses = $1000

Two people live there = Suzy pays 50%

Suzy signs a lease with her mom stating that she will pay $500 per month for rent and utilities. Every month, Suzy gives her mother a check for $500. Suzy pays for all her own food. Because of her disabilities, she is unable to go to the store herself, so she gives her mom money to go shopping for her.

Suzy’s mother pays for internet, lawn care, and appliances. Suzy’s mother also buys Suzy clothes, and pays for household items like toothpaste and soap and sponges. At her SSI assessment, Suzy tells the SSI worker what her mom is paying for, but the workers says this has no impact on SSI because her mom never gives any money to Suzy.

Suzy is paying her share of household expenses, and she collects maximum SSI. He also follows the food stamps regulations for people with disabilities and collects food stamps.

Example # 2 – Joe Lives With His Friends

Joe, John, Jim and Jane rent a house together. Their household expenses are:

Rent – $2,000

Gas – varies

Electric – varies

Water / Sewer – varies

Garbage removal – varies

Food – purchased separated

Total Household expenses = $2000 + utilities 

Four people live there = Joe pays 25%

Joe adds his name to the lease with his friends. Every month, he sends the landlord a check for $500. He also buys his own food. When the utility bills come, Joe always pays 25%.

Joe is paying his share of household expenses, and he collects maximum SSI. She also follows the food stamps regulations for people with disabilities and collects food stamps.

Example # 3 – Jane Lives in HUD Housing

Jane is lives in a Section 8 HUD apartment with a live-in aide, Susan.

Jane follows the HUD housing regulations and the landlord excludes Susan’s income. They also exclude Jane’s supplements as medical expenses and the cost of cat food and litter for her emotional support animal. Jane has $735 income, but only $600 in countable income. Her rent is set at 30% which is $180 per month.

Jane has a two-bedroom apartment valued at $1,000 per month. Jane pays $180 per month and HUD pays the remainder of the rent. This does not impact her SSI, because it is a government housing program. Jane collects maximum SSI. Jane’s food is separate from Susan’s so she also applies for and receives food stamps as well as utility assistance.


35 thoughts on “How Much Rent to Pay on SSI”

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  2. I receive the full 735 $ a month I just recently found a room for rent of Craig’s list . The room is 540 a month that includes Elise of the shower and electric . I buy my own food . The rest of money goes to laundry Matt and food that is mine kept in my room will this affect my ssi


    1. It sounds to me like you are correctly following all the regulations. I do not think this will have any effect on your SSI.

      It’s a good idea to keep a receipt to show you are paying your rent each month – or pay by check so the canceled check is your receipt. SSA does not ask for food receipts.

      Social Security may never have any issues with this amount, but if they want more info, other people have handled this by submitting a brief (one sentence) letter from their landlord stating “This tenant is paying the fair market rent for a room of this type in this area.” Since you got this room off a craigslist ad, you are obviously paying market rate.

      Hope your new place works out great for you. If this rent is higher than what you were paying before, you can contact your food stamps worker and let them know about the change. You may be eligible for more food stamps.


  3. There is a scenario I did not see here that I know is an issue for many NYC people.
    There are “affordable housing” lotteries where people can apply for apartments for much lower than market rents.

    These “lotteries” usually involve you having to be in a very specific income range to qualify.

    The glitch is this: The rents are still usually higher than the 30% of income that SSI people are expected to pay, but if you have someone who is willing to help with rent above and beyond what you can pay, that money can be considered as “income,” as far as I know and thereby making it possible for someone to qualify for an apartment they would not be able to obtain just on SSI alone.

    I read an article by a local organization saying that some people are being given a hard time by SS because of someone contributing to their rent, even if the landlord is paid directly and when the reason is that the person is paying ONLY the amount above the 30% the SSI person is paying.

    Is there any resolution to this you know of?


    1. If someone is paying part of your rent, SSA will lower your check. The only solution I am aware of is to see if the housing organization will take into account if someone pays for something else instead (not food, rent or utilities), or if see if they would accept if someone is able to co-sign or undersign the lease. SSA has no penalty if someone assists with other kind of bills or household items.


  4. Example #1 of Suzy living with her mom, total expenses $1000 and she pays half = $500 for rent + utilities.

    That $500 is more than a 1/3 deduction, i.e. $250 out of $750 (2018 fed rate). If she was paying at least $250 but still less than $500 would that difference count against her?


      1. But I thought the whole 1/3 deduction is SSI rule. Living Arrangement category B living in the household of another where you’re receiving food and housing from someone in it. That’s where it says Federal SSI money is reduced by one-third whereas Categories A (living in own household) and C (child living in parents’ household) say the maximum federal SSI money is used to compute your SSI payment.


        1. Oh, I’m sorry, I misunderstood.

          You are correct that is an SSI rule 🙂

          In my understanding, they will still look to see if you pay your full share of rent. Paying one third of your income wouldn’t qualify you for maximum SSI. However, if you are paying some rent, it might not be reduced by the entire one-third. Sometimes it is reduced by less.


  5. Hi. Thank you for the breakdown, it is really helpful but I need some answers
    In the case of individuals with SSI/SSDI and PAA, how much will such person be receiving and how much can be used for rent
    What is the process to apply for SSA/SSDI and PAA?
    How is PAA support different from SSI and what is the process for an assisted living facility to collect?
    What are the requirements to set up an assisted living facility?
    What are the services that need to be provided by an assisted living facility?
    Sorry for asking so much questions, any info you can provide will go a long way.


    1. Hi Keisha, I’m sorry I don’t know what PAA is. This might be the name of a program in your state. Do you know what it stands for?

      Not all states pay for assisted living. If you are in a state where medicaid pays for assisted living, and you go into an assisted living facility, I believe they will provide housing and food and assistance, but they will take almost your entire SSI check. They leave you a very small amount. I think it varies by state but may be as low as $30 per month.

      Another option is to get on a medicaid waiver program. In this case, you stay in your own home and keep your entire SSI check and medicaid pays for a home aid to come help you in your home.


  6. My son is 22 and lives at home and is receiving SSI. He works at a job with a piece rate income. I was told that he could split all the utilities, rent and food by 3 (mom, dad and himself). A third of Trash, Medical/Dental Insurance and Electric is $80/mo. and groceries he contributes $150/mo. and rent $200/mo. (mortgage paid off). I buy all the groceries and just have my son pay the monthly average of $150 his share. My son gets “In-Kind Support and Maint.” deducted. His SSI checks have only been between $58 and $119. Why is my son getting In-Kind Support deducted if he is contributing to his share of food and shelter expenses? He isn’t even able to contribute the full amount that would be his 3rd because he does not have enough income. Should I not be charging him for trash, ins. and rent? Please advise your thoughts, Thank you.


    1. Sounds like they may have made a mistake.

      If you want to make things as clear as possible, you can sign a rent agreement with him. It should not include insurance. Just rent and utilities. Food can also be included, or he can just buy his own food.

      Since there is no mortgage, I am not sure if they will consider it enough to be paying 1/3 of actual expenses, or if they will expect your son to pay market rate. the rules I have seen do not address this point.

      If you feel your SSI check is incorrect, you can call and request an SSI redetermination.

      His check will still be somewhat lowered because of his job income, though.

      It doesn’t matter who pays his insurance, you can pay it and this won’t affect ssi. But if he is on SSI, why does he have an expense for medical insurance? Doesn’t medicaid cover his medical?

      If his food is separate from you, he can also apply for food stamps:


  7. Thank you sleepygirl. My son is covered under my major medical insurance through work (Aetna) and has UPMC for You as secondary. The insurance he pays for is his share of the deduction that my work takes out of my pay. I will definitely look into the one room rent cost in my area and follow up as you suggested. You have been a great help.


    1. I hope it goes great for you. Yes, SSI will not care if he pays you back for insurance. 🙂 they only care about food, rent, and utilities.

      If for some reason, when you meet with them, they are still deducting his in-kind, you can appeal this or just ask to speak to a supervisor who can help you sort it out, but I think/hope it will go through without a problem. ❤


      1. So can someone pay medical expenses on your behalf and that not be counted against you? I’ve seen it said elsewhere that Social Security doesn’t care if someone pays for your phone, cable, internet. What about clothing, education, or travel expenses? Do you have a list anywhere of the expenses they do and do not care about?


  8. my niece is living with my husband and I, we had to fill out papers for ssi explaining expenses, etc, well since this she hasn’t been honoring her agreement and hasn’t paid anything for the last month,actually she has been leaving for days on end and this last issue is i am expected to fill out ssi papers verifying she’s paying as we stated in order to raise her amount to a proper amount. she wasnt collecting thetotal amount because she wasn’t paying rent as she had no income, now they say she’s getting less because she didnt pay rent, with income of course we expect her to pay, we struggled financially for 2 years because she didnt have a penny to her name, at this writing i am seeking advice because she not only hasnt paid her rent for the month but she also hasnt bothered to respond as to when she’ll return, you still pay rent whether you physically are here or not, i don’t want to be stuck in a situation of lying about anything and i certainly feel at this time we have been put in an awkward situation
    everyone seems to think she should be entitled to a life of coming and going whenever wherever and however she wishes, but they don’t know all the facts, or our agreement, so if she expects to continue receiving her ssi we do expect her to abide by OUR agreement i dont think this is too much to ask. she isn’t receiving money to run around and enjoy everyday without responsibility and obligation being unable to work is one thing, if you can maintain a free lifestyle then you’re not unable to work and that puts us in a very bad situation, what do we do as we are now being totally ignored.


    1. All you can do is be honest on the SSA forms.

      If she agrees to start paying rent, get the agreement in writing, and she can contact SSI and request a redetermination to raise her SSI again. If she can’t afford it, you can loan her the rent money until her check raises, as long as this is part of the signed, written agreement.

      If she does not want to pay rent at all, then her check stays the same. Then it is more of a family matter where you have to make a decision what you want to do in your household.


  9. I receive the full SSI amount. I was wondering if anyone knew if the amount would be effected if I moved in as a roommate with the father of my child? He would be charging me rent for the bedrooms me and my children occupy and we would split utilities. I would buy my own food. Since we do have a child together would it be seen that we are domestic partners and take his income into consideration? Thanks for any reply.


    1. Hi Sarah,

      I have no way of knowing how social security will decide to treat this.

      Other readers report that during SSI assessments, some workers at Social Security ask questions about “holding out as married” and some do not.

      You can look at the link to the regs above. I can’t really predict what they would decide in your case. I hope it goes well for you.


  10. I am in Sacramento, CA. My mom lives with me. I am her landlord. She pays $500 a month for rent with everything included. She pays for her food. I am not helping her financially in anyway. There is no mortgage on the house, but why should that be SSA’s business, as it has nothing to do with my mom.

    What she is paying is fair rent for my area, but we never signed any contract or paperwork. Would this be a problem? I don’t want her to lose anything unjustly. Thanks.


    1. It depends if she is on SSI or SSDI or retirement.

      If she is on SSI, and you feel she is paying fair market rent, then when she comes up for SSI review, you can follow the instructions above to write a letter stating this is fair market rent for your area.

      It’s a good idea to sign a lease and for her to pay her rent by check every month so she has a record. Hope this helps.


    1. I have not seen any specific rules addressing this. I have met other people who met this criteria with a letter from the landlord or homeowner stating that they had researched similar housing in the area and were setting the rent at fair market rent, the same as they would charge any other tenant.


      1. I wonder if SSA even has the resources to check on that. I’m just getting started on this and I’m using $300 as a starting amount. Don’t want anything that seems too low, so definitely more than the 1/3 deduction, but can’t go too high because the amount they give us is just so low. The exact pro rata share 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 etc. assumes all the rooms have the same value, but consider some rooms are bound to be smaller than others, may have fewer amenities, any structural damage, etc. Consider 2 people living in a house where one of them gets the large master bedroom with its own private bathroom vs. a small simple room. Is that really worth a 50/50 split or more of a 60/40 or 75/25?
        I’m going to attempt writing into the rental agreement “The homeowners have determined this is a fair market rent for a room of this type [or size] and condition in the area.”


        1. Good ideas, Brian.

          You could also collect a few craigslist ads or classifieds for rentals in your neighborhood.

          For example, if you have a couple ads showing rent in your area is around $900 for a three bedroom, and you are renting one bedroom in a three bedroom house, that would show that you are paying about average for your area.

          I don’t think SSA will even ask for that, but it doesn’t hurt to have the documentation just in case 🙂


  11. I recently won my SSI disability case and just had my financial interview. Currently, I pay 0 rent because I have no income and am on HUD does this mean when there figuring out my benefit it will be lowered because housing is paying my rent? My rent will go up as soon as I have an income.


    1. Hi Nicki,

      To the best of my knowledge, HUD assistance is a government program and should have no impact on SSI. If your check is reduced, that means they made a mistake and you can get it corrected. Congrats on your approval.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I have a couple of questions

    1st question….. If my wife and I are separated and my daughter lives with her and she gets SSDI from my benefits will my daughter still receive SSI if I’m getting SSI?

    2nd question……If I’m awarded both SSI and SSDI can I rent a 3 bedroom home with a monthly rent note of $1300 which is greater than my SSI payment and I stay alone????….with both SSDI and SSI I can afford the payments along with paying all utilities, food, lawn service, car insurance, and rental insurance which leaves me with roughly $400 to $500 left at the end of each month as longs as I don’t have to purchase clothes, repair my car or purchase additional meds past my normal monthly amount.

    3rd question…..if my duaghter is allowed to receive both SSDI and SSI, can her mom put her full SSDI check into a college fund for her and the fund not effect my daughter’s SSI check?

    4th question…. Will my require renter’s insurance and car insurance be seen as resources? Also, I’m I allowed to purchased a new car and pay a car note and keep SSI benefits? (Don’t have the money but would like to know the answer)

    Many thanks for providing answers to my questions!


    1. Hi tony,

      1. Is your daughter disabled and currently getting SSI? Who would be the primary custodial parent (person daughter lives with majority of time)?

      2. People on both SSI and SSDI only get a total of $750 per month. At the amounts you’ve listed here, you won’t be eligible for SSI.

      3. The SSDI will affect your daughters SSI. A college fund won’t change that. As far as I know: If your wife is caring for your disabled child, under certain circumstances she may be eligible for dependent benefits (mother/fathers benefits). If your wife files for dependent benefits, then her and your daughter will SPLIT the amount of benefits, causing both checks to be lower. (I’m pretty sure she can do this even if separated). Depending on other household income and living situation, this could make the daughters SSI check higher, or it could have no impact.

      4. As far as I know, the only kind of insurance seen as a resource is life insurance.

      Yes, you are allowed to purchase a new car. One car is excluded as a resource from SSI. A second car counts.

      – If you and your wife do not have a car now, then the new car does not count as a resource.

      – If you are separated and she has a car, you can also have a car, and that does not count as a resource.

      – However, if your household already has a car, then a second car does count.They will count your EQUITY value of the car. At the beginning, this may be zero and cause no problems, but eventually you would have some equity in the car.

      Hope this helps. ❤


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