How To Follow the SSI Living Arrangement Regs

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Art: Robin Mead. Page Update: June 2019

Many people on SSI do not know the rules about how living arrangements can make disability checks go up or down. This happens because no one at Social Security ever tells you these rules! Luckily, you can learn them now:

Before You Read Me: Don’t Read Me

Everything on this page is for SSI. If you are on SSDI, ignore this page. Learn more: How to Understand the Difference Between SSI and SSDI Without Making Your Head Explode

How SSI Looks at Rent and Utilities

At an SSI interview, they will ask you about rent and utilities. If you are not paying your share of rent or utilities, your SSI check will be a lower amount. If you are paying your share, then your SSI check will not be affected.

How SSI Looks at Mortgages and Owning a Home

If you own a home, the rules are the same. Instead of paying rent, you pay your share of the mortgage, utilities and related expenses. If someone else is paying your share, your SSI check will be a lower amount.

How Much Rent of Mortgage to Pay

If you live alone, SSA will look to see that you are paying all of your rent or mortgage.  If you live with other people there are some specific rules about How Much Rent or Mortgage to Pay on SSI

What if a government or nonprofit program pays part of my rent and utilities?

There are special rules for this. This will not make your SSI check go down.

What if I am homeless?

Please take a look here: How Much is SSI if You are Homeless?

Will my SSI check go down if I live with a family member, mother, brother, sister, etc?

No. As long as you are paying your share of household expenses, and you are an adult, this has no effect on your check. If you are under age 18, then your parent’s income will impact your SSI.

Will my SSI check go down if I live with a husband or wife?

Depends. Very often this will cause an SSI check to go down or be cut off. It is difficult for married people to stay on SSI, because they will consider both people’s income.

Will my SSI check go down if I live with a roommate or friend?

No. As long as you are paying your share of household expenses, this has no effect on your check.

Will my SSI check go down if I live with a girlfriend or boyfriend?

Sometimes. This does not happen in all cases, but sometimes a Social Security worker will will ask questions to see if the two people are functioning more like roommates or more like a married couple.  If Social Security determines that two people are more like a married couple, they may treat them as married, even if they are not legally married. In some cases, this means a person’s SSI check may be reduced or eliminated. This is called Holding Out as Married.

I can’t afford rent yet, what are my options?

If you are not yet receiving SSI, or your SSI check is currently being lowered, you may find it difficult to pay your full share of rent. There are some policies that assist with this situation: How To Pay Rent While Waiting

My child is disabled. Who can pay my child’s rent?

For families with a child with disabilities, when your child turns 18, he or she will need to follow the SSI rent rules. Many families arrange for children to start paying rent at this age.

Reader’s Story: Suzy lived in a house owned by her mom. When she turned 18, she signed a lease with her mom and began paying rent every month. She also paid her share of the food and utilities. Her SSI check was kept in a separate bank account from her mom, but she would write a check to her mom for rent and utilities each month.

For children under the age of 18, there is no impact if a disabled child receives free rent from a parent who lives in the home. If the child receives free or discounted rent from an absent parent or from grandparents or from anyone else, the child’s SSI check is lowered.

How do I prove I paid rent?

Once you start paying rent, if possible, try to pay your rent by check or some way where you can get a receipt. You may never be asked for this receipt, but it is good to have it just in case.

Special Situations

Learn more about these special situations on this page of Frequently Asked Questions

  • “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?”

Learn More

How to find rent you can afford and other important things you need to know about How to Survive on SSI

64 thoughts on “How To Follow the SSI Living Arrangement Regs”

  1. Hello my son is 10 and collects SSI my mom lives with us we split all the bills 50/50 SAA tells me my son check 1/3 reduction because I pay he’s rent and food. But on your site you talk about living arrangements C he should get full amount? Isn’t illegal to charge a minor rent??. Every caseworker at Dayton SSA office tells me he’s supposed to. And he’s lost 2000$ in overpayments!.

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    1. His check is being reduced because Your mom is paying part of his rent and food. Your mom should only be paying her share which is 1/3. If your mom pays more than this, it is the same as her giving a gift to your son, and they will reduce his check because of that. If you are unable to pay back the overpayment, you could try requesting a waiver and show that it would create great financial hardship.

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  2. Hello Sleepy Girl,
    My roommate/tenant just received an SSI award letter in California, but the amount was reduced to by about $200. I own the home and rent him a room. I’ve loaned him food and shelter for about 5 years and have a loan agreement. He’s not really sure why his SSI was reduced. I own a home in a middle class area of town where rents would be anywhere from $1200 to $1700 per month–he things it might be that SSI felt he doesn’t pay fair share because the rents in the area and there are only 2 people living in the home. I rent 1 room to him and he uses a shared bathroom and has access to the kitchen. He’s worried that if he tries to appeal the SSI award decision that he’ll get even less. How does he show that he needs the max SSI amount. I signed an ssi form/rental agreement that he’d pays $700 per month in rent and $100 per month to repay loan.
    Our loan agreement said I charged him $700 a month for food and shelter. I’m not sure if the way I wrote everything made SSI reduce his amount and the reduced amount makes it so he can’t afford to live here.

    How can he re-submit info to enable his max SSI?

    Kebu2021 in Cali

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    1. If I were him, I would request a meeting with his SSI worker. Ask the worker the reason why his check is being lowered. Make sure to only talk directly to his SSI worker, don’t call and ask a random person who answers the phone or you may get incorrect information. The worker should be able to tell him what is lowering his check. It’s better that he doesn’t take any action until he knows the reason the check is being lowered. Once he knows the reason, he will have a better idea of how to resolve the problem.

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  3. Hi how do you prove to ssi that you recently moved and are renting a room in someone else’s home and paying them cash ? should i pay with card and show the amount i’m sending to their account ?

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    1. You can ask the person who is your landlord to give you a rent receipt each month. If needed, you could also bring a signed letter from them. Social Security should accept this as proof. If they don’t, they will let you know what more they need.

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    2. Never married to sons dad but rent house from him.My son and I both recieve ssi…Now that my sons dad is disabled and gets a pension, he wants to move in the house because he can now afford it.,,He offered for us to stay and rent 2 bedrooms so my son and I will each have one..We can share utitiles but he already lays elec. it’s included in the rent,,I’m thinking I should just move out and live in my car..Ssi will most likely treat us like a married couple holding out because we been friends our whole lives and have a 41 year old son together..I’m turning 65, where will I go..I’m afraid to even ask ssi and I’m better off leaving the house..

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  4. Dear Sleepygirl,
    Thank you for this blog! Here is my situation, and question. Situation: My brother who is disabled and currently on SSI lives in my mother’s house. My mom died in November 2019, and prior to her death set up a Supplemental Needs Trust (SNT) for my brother, and my sister and I are the trustees of that Trust. The house that was owned by my mother was made part of the SNT for my brother. In the past, my brother did not pay rent to my mother. As the trustee, I can sell the house and purchase another house, or invest the money from the sale of the house, as long as it all used for his benefit. I understand that the Trust can’t provide food or housing. But, that is only if he is receiving SSI benefits that include an allowance for housing, is that correct?

    However, since he never paid rent, he was not getting an allowance towards housing. First Question: Can I, as the Trustee of the Trust, charge him rent now since my mom has passed, and the house is in the name of Trust? And if I can, will his monthly amount increase? Question #2: If I sell the house, how do the expenses get paid?

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    1. Have you checked to see if he is eligible for disabled adult child benefits under his mother’s record? If he is, he might not get SSI anymore so this might not matter. If he is still on SSI…

      I think it would be best to consult with a lawyer who specializes in this area. My limited understanding is that he could use his disability check to pay rent to the trust. I assume this would raise his check.

      I am not understanding the second question.

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  5. How will I know if my ssi will go up if my rent goes up? I get ssi and social security. I only get 502 for social security.

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  6. I’ve been reading through all the info and I think I understand but i just want to get confirmation before I act to be certain!

    My boyfriend and I, along with our 1 year old baby moved into my boyfriend’s father’s house but we aren’t paying rent, just trying to get on our feet and get our own place.His dad rents the house from his mother (my bfs grandmother), but she does not live in the home and he pays 100% of the fair market value rent. He is on SSI and is permanently unable to work, and he hasno other income source.

    **So to confirm, it’s my understanding that his check should not/will not be affected by us living here, as our finances are separate, no change to his rent amount has been made and he’s not receiving rent payments from us, is this correct? Until I’m sure, I’m scared to put this address down to reapply for my baby’s Medicaid coverage that she needs back asap! (I missed renewal and lost her benefits).

    Thanks in advance for your time and help and also thank you for creating such an amazingly resourceful website, jam-packed with info yet super easy to read and understand! You have done a wonderful job with this website and have helped so many improve their lives!
    Thanks again,
    Kellie

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    1. Hi Kellie,

      I’m not totally sure of the question, but if dad is the only one on SSI and paying full rent and utilities and not sharing finances, your income won’t impact him.

      You might want to double check he’s actually on SSI. Most people on SSI can’t afford to pay market rate for a house. He might be on a different form of social security with no financial restrictions 🙂
      https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/2019/06/25/how-to-tell-what-youre-on/

      I don’t know the medicaid rules in every state. Typically, an adult child won’t be considered part of same medicaid household if not on each others taxes. Food stamps would be either one household or two, depending if you share food (you and boyfriend will always be considered one household because of the child).

      hope this helps.

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  7. If we own a condo that is not our primary residence can our disabled daughter who receives SSI rent the condo from us? She would most certainly have a roommate. So, can she rent from us if we own the property?

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    1. Sure. She can rent from you.

      How they calculate the rent will be totally different depending on whether or not you also live there. I have not seen any rules on primary vs secondary residence, so I’m not sure how that part works or if it matters. They ask how many people live in the home.

      a. if you live there, they are going to follow the rules for living with homeowner: https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/how-to-figure-out-how-much-rent-to-pay-on-ssi/

      b. If you don’t live there, they will be looking that she pays her share of the rent and utilities. If she has one roommate that’s 50%.

      Plus: Either way, they may also ask if you are charging fair market rate (same as you would charge any other tenant).

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  8. Hi, i just got a letter from ssi that i am not getting the california part of my ssi because i receive IHSS services. The letter says that i am in category z for the california living arrangements and if you are in this category, you are not entitled to state benefits.. It states that i am living in a private medical facility that is not licensed. this is absurd! My home is not a medical facility! I have talked to two other people that did not have this happen to them and they receive all 936 and receive IHSS services. I am livid! I called the ssi worker today and of course i had to leave a message and she didnt call me back. So i am all stressed out that i am gonna miss out on 6500 of my back pay cus she took the california part of my ssi payments! has anyone had this happen to them?

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    1. It sounds like they may have mis-categorized you. I’m sure there is a way to resolve this, possibly trying to talk to supervisors. You might also try contacting disability rights california. I hope it goes well.

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  9. My child gets SSI and lives with me. My child needs to be in an inpatient hospital temporarily to have his medications adjusted. They are stating he will be inpatient approximately two-three weeks. Will this make his SSI benefit check reduce for that month since he will be staying inpatient and away from my home until returning after the medication adjustment? Thanks.

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  10. Will I lose my SSI benefit of $261 and or my SS Survivor’s benefit (deceased father) of $530. Total $791.00 per month; if I move into my married daughters home or my mother’s home. I will be renting a room in either home at $400.00. (Layton, Utah)

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  11. i have a arrangement with the person I am living with to paid him 300.00 a month for room and board from 2017 on when I become approved. I cannot stay free . however when I got approve for ssi they deducted 200.00 from my check for free rent. this was not correct. I told them the agreement. can I appea; this

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    1. Yes, you can appeal.

      The notice you got for your SSI amount should give you information on how to appeal. They may need a signed written rental agreement or rental loan agreement.

      More info on rental loan agreements is here: https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/how-to-figure-out-how-much-rent-to-pay-on-ssi/

      In addition to appealing, you can also contact and request a new SSI interview. I don’t know which way would be better/faster. You can do both.

      The appeal could help correct your checks from the past, whereas a new appointment might only do the future, starting in two months.

      I hope it goes well for you.

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  12. Hi Sleepy Girl.

    I’ve written a few questions a couple of days ago and am petrified that my son will once again be turned down. To refresh, he had that surprise saving bonds issue. We will be heading into SS tomorrow to show proof with my bank statements that the money was spent for his needs. He was on SSI before but was denied a while back ago when he was a minor as his grandfather had given him bonds him.. That was almost 10 years ago. Just to clarify, my uncle had the “surprise” bonds. ANYWAY, my son is now 21 and unable to live on his own. I am dependent on the person we live with as he pays for all the bills and rent. We are not married nor tend to be. After reading the above answer regarding two roommates living together, SS might consider them as joint income aka married. SSI has some really, really confusing rules. I’m not sure what side of the line we are on! I was told that because I am dependent on someone else, that he would be eligible to receive benefits and if I weren’t dependent, then he wouldn’t. So what I was told contradicts. I am very confused. BTW, the benefits that he would receive would be for rent. Thank you for this blog. It is so informative and I don’t feel so alone and lost trying to understand everything.

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    1. Hi Annie,

      I hope it goes great for you. I am not certain I understand but…

      Whether or not you are married or dependent would have no impact whatsoever 🙂

      Since your son is 21, they will only look at his finances. If he is married or receives free rent, that will impact his SSI.

      Keep us posted on how it goes. If they don’t accept that the money was spent, and your son still has savings, you can also ask if he can place the money he has in an ABLE account. It won’t impact SSI once it is in ABLE.

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  13. Thanks! I currently pay rent equal to my share of expenses, which also happens to be 30% of my income. But I’m getting docked because I’m not paying the “going rate for renting a bedroom.” Shouldn’t I be getting the full amount? Why would I get the full amount if the government paid my rent via HUD or section 8 but not because my parents do?

    My sister is getting docked even more because our parents help pay for some of our food. So I’m worried if I call to complain about getting docked for rent even though I pay my share, that they’ll just dock me more for sharing food.

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    1. Sadly, this part of the SSI rules suck. They don’t count help from HUD but they do count help from other people.

      For SSI, they have a complicated way of calculating what they consider “fair share.” If you live with parents, they also ask parents if they are charging you the same amount they would charge any other person. More info on that is here:  
      https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/how-to-figure-out-how-much-rent-to-pay-on-ssi/

      If you are age 22+ and your food is separate, you might be able to apply for your own food stamps account, which would allow you to cover your own food expenses.: https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/how-to-get-enough-food-stamps-to-actually-eat/

      The amount of rent you pay also impacts how much food stamps you get, so if rent is low you might get less.

      Calling to complain won’t cause them to dock you, but it also won’t make things better. However…

      If your rent or food changes, you can always call to request a new ssi appointment to provide them with the updated information so they can make adjustments.

      Hope this helps.

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      1. Thanks. I do pay my share of the household expenses. They asked my parents what they would charge someone else and they said they wouldn’t—my room wouldn’t be for rent if it wasn’t their child living there. At one point I had given an agent a wrong amount of rent I was paying—I was guessing and told them part of my disability was not being able to work with or remember numbers so not to take that number seriously and I would look it up and let them know (now I know just to say “I don’t know”). When my parents didn’t give them an amount, they took that old wrong amount from me and put it in the computer as what my parents said they would charge someone else. Both they and I tried to get it corrected but no one would change it. It’s been a year or two now and I don’t know how to fix it.

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        1. If you want your SSI to be redetermined, You can get a written lease with your parents. Along with proof you’ve been paying rent every month. It doesn’t matter how much rent you paid in the past, just what you are paying NOW.

          Even if your parents wouldn’t actually rent to someone else, they can still set the rent at what they would consider to be fair market rate for the area.

          Then you can call SSA and ask to schedule an appointment for an SSI redetermination. Phone or in person appointment.

          At the appointment, you can show them your correct current rent.

          If you don’t have food stamps yet, you might want to do that first, so you don’t have to go back and redo the SSI again after your food changes.

          SSA will look at whether your parents are charging same amount as they would charge anyone else PLUS they will look at “fair share.” How to calculate fair share: https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/how-to-figure-out-how-much-rent-to-pay-on-ssi/

          Hope this helps.

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  14. I need some advice/suggestions. My 19 year-old special needs daughter has been collecting SSI since November 2018. She had been receiving the maximum SSI, minus $5. Since January 2019, that amount has been $766. We have a rental agreement with our daughter – she rents a room and pays for her own food. We determined that she is a separate household. We used the HUD website to determine the fair market value of a room rental in our zip code. Fast forward to April 2019. Without notification or any prior warning, her April and May checks have been reduced by 1/3. I called our local SSI office to find out what is going on. I learned that our case manager is no longer at our local office. I left a message for our new case worker, asking her to return my call. She has not called me back. A few days ago, I called the 1-800 SSI number (not our local office) and I was told that they are doing a redetermination on my daughter. I am confused because nothing has changed. Our rental agreement is still in effect and my daughter continues to have no income. What should I do to ensure that my daughter continues to receive the maximum monthly benefit, minus $5 (which is $766). I was never given an explanation about why my daughter doesn’t get the full maximum of $771.00 and how they determined they would withhold $5 each month. Also, what do I need to do to recoup the 1/3 that SSI withhold from her March and April 2019 checks? Thank you very much.

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  15. Hi my names Valerie. I was renting a room for 400 and the girls on section 8. My room flodded and she told me i have to move into the laundry room. Still being charged 400 a month. I am disabled, theres no windows in the basement and theres mold growing everywhere. I need help big time. Is it illegal for her to do this? Especially with all my health conditions? Thx in advance

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    1. You might try contacting tenant rights organizations and legal aide in your area. I am sorry you are in this situation. I don’t understand who is on Ssection 8 in this story.

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      1. Ok, ready?

        I am a payee for my boyfriend and our son who is disabled. They both receive a check. We pay bills three ways currently. My brother and far in the future mother in law are moving in. She receives survivors benefits and SSI and he works. He doesn’t have a “room” per say so I only charge him food and $100/mo. But she is renting a room for $400. She needs a payee.

        Question 1.
        Can I be her payee?
        Question 2.
        Will the boys’ checks be reduced?
        Question 3.
        If my boyfriend and I were to choose to get married in the future would they both lose their checks? Would she?

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  16. I live in a separate apartment over the garage owned by my separated spouse that is registered in our town as a rental unit. It was an arrangement spelled out in our separation agreement.

    What if social security refuses to accept the assertion that we live in separate households and in fact claim that they do not need to consider the separation and state that to them we are married and therefore they would need to deem her assets and income.

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    1. If your spouse is still legally married to you and living on the property with you, I am not certain what decision they will make.

      If the apartment is legally registered as a separate apartment or separate address they may consider that you are living separately.

      If you feel their decision is not accurate, you have the right to file a form to request reconsideration. You can attach any documentation you have that shows that you are living in a separate unit – including registration from the town. If you have been paying rent and utilities, also attach copies of the lease.

      If the reconsideration is not successful, then you have the right to appeal and request a hearing where you will be able to explain your situation and show proof.

      If you are receiving free rent, your SSI check will be automatically lowered. If you are paying rent and utilities this part won’t impact your check.

      I hope it goes well for you.

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    2. My sister has a legal separation and it is upheld by court the same as a divorce. Same laws apply. So if the separation is legal, not just a private arrangement, and like Sleepygirl said, your expenses are separate and you pay your share of rent, then according to my research they should not count you as “holding out as married.” But your finances do need to be all kept separate and you would have to refer to yourself to your friends as separated (i.e. be sure to change your Facebook status and all that). If SSA is unsure, they may actually talk to your neighbors and such to help determine if you are holding out as married. So as long as you aren’t keeping the separation a secret in your social circles, I think you should be okay.

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  17. Hi,
    My minor child lives with me and receives SSI. I’m a single mother and receive IHSS in California for his care. I recently moved into my own apartment with my child. I previously lived with my father. Would I be eligible to receive the full SSI payment for him, or will the amount be higher since my living arrangement has changed? I currently receive less than the full benefit. Thank you for your time.

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    1. It will depend if he receives child support or if you have other income. Also, depends if anyone else is helping pay for your food, rent, or utilities.

      If IHSS is the only income in the household, then he should be eligible for maximum SSI. Make sure the SSI caseworker excludes your IHSS income. Hope it goes well for you.

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    2. Thank you for your reply. My child receives $118 in survivors benefits from his father who is on SSI, he does not live with me and my child. No child support. Should I say that I use my son’s current SSI payment towards food and shelter? Or will they consider it as in kind support and make a deduction, even though he is a minor and I’m his mother? I’m confused, someone in the office told me even if he’s a minor he still has to pay rent and food according to their rules. I really appreciate your time in answering my questions.

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      1. Hi Jackie,

        As far as I know: The survivors benefits will lower your son’s SSI check somewhat.

        If you wish to use the benefits for your rent, that is fine. It’s already been counted so it won’t make it any lower 🙂

        They consider in-kind support to be any help from outside the household (in this case the “household” is you and your son). Hope this helps.

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        1. Thank you goodness I found your blog. The information here is invaluable. Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions. I couldn’t get these answers from the SSI office. They didn’t want to tell me anything. Good luck to everyone.

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  18. I have a question, please, if you are familiar with both the Federal and CA living arrangement codes. My special needs child lives with me and just got approved for IHSS. Based on that IHSS approval, the CA living arrangement category should now be either B or F, which goes with Federal Living Arrangement category of A or B, respectively. What determines which Federal Living Arrangement category if I consider us to be separate households? FLA category should be A, right? Or will it automatically be assigned an FLA category of B considering the living arrangements (parent/child)?

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        1. I do not know a great deal about the codes. May I ask why you were looking into them?

          In my understanding, if the child is paying the rent, the fact that they are living with a parent or on IHSS would make no difference. all that would matter is if they are paying rent, food and utilities to the landlord (If the parent is the homeowner then the parent would be the landlord).

          If the child is not paying rent, their SSI check would be reduced.

          Sorry, I’m not totally sure if this was your question 🙂 hope this is helpful.

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          1. Thank you. That information is very helpful. The reason why I’m asking is because I believe that if care is being received, the CA supplemental amount goes up. As well, the federal code is incorrectly set as B, and I’m trying to get it updated to A since rent is being paid. Thank you again.

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            1. I may be wrong, but I remember reading that the non-medical home care supplement in California is only available if you decline the IHSS. So you would either receive that or the IHSS but not both. If you are successful at getting this I would love to know.

              If rent is being paid you should be able to request a new ssi determination interview in order to make sure that Social Security has the correct information and is correctly processing the case. Hope this helps.

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      1. I’m renting a room from my sister both my daughter and I we are both disabled and receive SSI. The social security worker wants to speak to my sister about the rent. What questions does my sister have to answer and which ones does not hve to answer. She is not on SSI

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  19. I just got approved, and boy is this stuff intimidating! I have been looking everywhere for my questions. I have 2.
    1. What if your kids are 18 and older, but still attending college full time, and they work part time to pay for their own expenses like car, tuition, clothing. My kids don’t give me any money, plus I feed them sometimes. Will having adult kids working in the home count against me and lower my monthly payment? 😦

    2. My mother loaned me some money in 2016. When my brother heard about this, he gave me money at Christmas time so I could pay her back. Is the money he ”gifted” me with, that I used to pay back a loan to our mother – going to now be counted as income?

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    1. Hi don,

      Your children’s income will have no impact on your ssi, as long as they don’t give you any money, and you pay for your own food and your share of your rent and utilities.

      The money you got at Christmas might affect your backpay – it depends if it was a loan or a gift from your brother. If it was a loan, they would ask you if you have a written loan agreement, ideally signed and dated before any money was exchanged. If it was a gift, it would probably affect your backpay for the month it was received.

      If possible, it might be helpful if you have anything to show that you used the money as a loan repayment to your mom, not a gift. You are not supposed to give away money. However, this might not even come up as an issue.

      Hope this helps and hope it goes well for you.

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  20. How does it work if you only pay your share of shared expenses— utilities, propane, phone, insurance, taxes, etc. No rent b/c there is no mortgage? Will that make your SSI go down? thank you!

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    1. This is a good question. I have wondered about this as well, but have not found a policy that addresses it.

      If you are the owner or co-owner of the house, I think what you are doing is correct.

      If you are not the owner, I really am not sure. It may be OK to do it the way you are, or it may be better to look for “fair market value” – average price in your area for the space you are living in, and pay that amount.

      Sorry I don’t have a better answer. If you (or anyone) finds more info, please comment here.

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      1. Thanks for your reply back. This would be for the renter, if you are renting a room, but the owner does not have a mortgage. It is hard to find a clear answer. If a call goes to SSI, I’ll be sure to let you know what I learn.

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        1. Thank you. Please keep us posted. The people who answer the phones at SSA often give out wrong information, especially an obscure question like this. If you are able to make an appointment or phone appointment with someone in your local office that specializes in SSI, they might be able to tell you.

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        2. ok, I looked it up a bit more.

          The rules are confusing.

          My best understanding at the moment is:

          first: they determine if you are a “shared household” or a “separate economic unit”. The questions they ask to decide this are on this page: https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0500835120#d
          If it is spouse or minor children, it’s automatically considered shared. For other people, it seems like a bit of a judgement call from the person asking the questions, since no one question determines the decision. If you are clear about being shared or not shared, that may help.

          Second: they decide how to calculate amount you owe:

          * If they determine it is a shared household, they consider whether you are paying your share of: Food (unless food is separate) Mortgage (including property insurance required by the mortgage holder) Real property taxes (less any tax rebate/credit) Rent Heating fuel Gas Electricity Water Sewer Garbage removal. Other expenses don’t matter. I would understand this to mean that if there is no mortgage, there would be no mortgage expense.

          * If they determine you are a separate economic unit, then they look to see that you are paying current market rate (about average rental price for a room and utilities in your area)

          There may be a bit of a catch. A shared economic household could have an impact other benefits. For example, sharing food would almost certainly impact food stamps. Pooling money or sharing bank accounts may impact SSI. There may be a way to do it without causing and impact, but it is just something to be aware of.

          If you want to give yourself a headache, the rules are here: https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0500835000

          Hope this helps ❤

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