I’m On SSI. What Happens if Someone Else Pays My Bills?


If someone else pays your bills this may or may not affect your SSI. It depends who is paying, which bills they are paying, and how they are paying them.

Your spouse gives you money or pays your bills or gives you free rent

If you live with your spouse, then all of your spouse’s income has already been taken into account by Social Security. It won’t matter if they give you things or pay your bills. (Only for live-in spouse)

Someone else paying your rent, mortgage, food or utilities

If someone pays your share of household expenses, your SSI check will be lowered. This includes rent, mortgage, groceries, or utilities. Special exceptions: There are a few special circumstances where someone else can pay your household expenses without affecting your SSI.

Someone else paying your other bills (not food or shelter)

If someone else pays your other bills, this has no effect on SSI according to the SSI rules. Someone can pay your phone, internet, medical bills, car insurance, household maintenance, pet care, etc. As long as the person pays the bill directly and NEVER GIVES MONEY TO YOU, this has no affect on SSI.

Someone else giving you money and you use the money to pay your bills

This is income. You must report this to Social Security and your SSI will be lowered. It doesn’t matter how you use the money.

Someone else gives you a free place place to live

This will lower your SSI check, unless you pay rent for the room you live in or you have a rental loan agreement to repay the person for the rent. Exception: Live in spouse can give you a place to live.

Someone putting money in a Special Needs Trust to pay your bills

Someone can place money into a trust for you and this will not affect your SSI. There are specific limits on how the trust must be handled and how it must be set up.

Someone putting money in an ABLE Account to pay your bills

Someone can place money into a trust for you and this will not affect your SSI, as long as the money was not given to you first. If you have a ABLE Account, you can use it to pay any bills that are considered “qualifying disability expenses.” ABLE rules are still developing, so please research what is allowed. According to SSI rules, rent and utilities are allowed. Food is not. ABLE accounts are for people who first became disabled before the age of 26 (you can be any age now).

Someone loaning you money to pay your bills

Loans are always allowed and can be used in any way you wish. Make sure to have a signed, written agreement that includes the correct language for a valid loan agreement.

Government program pays your bills

This will not impact SSI.

What happens when someone pays Suzy’s phone bill? 

A. Suzy’s mom pays her phone bill each month. Suzy’s mom sends a check directly to the phone company. This has no impact on SSI.

B. Suzy’s mom pays her phone bill each month. She gives the money to Suzy and Suzy uses it to pay the bill. Suzy reports this to SSI, and her check is lowered.

What happens when someone pays Suzy’s rent? 

A. Suzy’s mom pays her rent each month. Suzy’s mom sends a check directly to the landlord. Suzy reports this to SSI, and her check is lowered.

B. Suzy moves into a HUD Section 8 apartment. Suzy pays $150 per month, and HUD pays the rest. HUD pays this amount to the landlord. This has no impact on SSI.

Learn More

How to Survive on SSI

How You Can (and can’t) Make Money While on SSI

Updated Oct 2017. Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.



10 thoughts on “I’m On SSI. What Happens if Someone Else Pays My Bills?”

  1. Hi Sleepygirl,

    My mother who is 93 year old, does not have driver license, just an state provided ID. She lives with we. I am not her official rep payee, but SSA has my name as a contact person. Since she is not able to handle bank accounts and payments, I am on bank account as well.

    Since I just started over seeing her SSI, I did not know what the requirements were. I did not take her money from her account for monthly expenses including rents, utilities , personal services and etc. As a result her account started adding up. Since I had taken the money for two years, SSA is asking her to pay back overpayments as well as they are discontinuing SSI as Dec 1,2020. As soon as I noticed, I took huge money out to keep it around $1000, and made the payment to myself calling it owed money to me. I am not sure if I did the right think.

    We have don’t have a formal arrangement, but I do have approx. estimated expenses on her.

    I was thinking about buying a car on her name and also prearranged funeral services. I was told these are expenses I can show and avoid paying overpayments.

    Two questions:
    1. Funeral Services cost much more than $1500. If spent more than $1500, can the amount still be eligible for reduction from overpayment bill?
    2. Since she does not have a driver license, can she still purchase a car? I will be her designate driver, and will insure her and myself. She is 93, car will be used only for her transportation. I understand this can be reduced from overpayment as well as long as she does not own other cars. Is is feasible?

    Any advise will be appreciated.


    1. Sorry to hear this happened.

      For the past overpayment, take a look here: https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/how-to-respond-when-social-security-tells-you-that-you-owe-money-back/

      For future checks:

      Taking funds out of her account could cause problems. They will want to see a formal signed legal agreement about money owed, ideally it would be dated from before the money started to be owed.

      You may be able to return the money to her, I would consider doing this. The policy I am seeing only shows returning funds the same month or subsequent month… If it’s been longer than that, I am not sure if it’s still allowed. You could try meeting with her SSI worker to go over the policy:


      If the money gets returned to her, yes she can buy a car or burial fund or spend it in another way. I don’t know the regulations for burial funds. As long as car title is in her name, I don’t think it matters who drives it.

      Worst case scenerio is she would be inelegible for a length of time, but can eventually get back on. Hopefully SSI worker can go over the details with you.

      Whatever you do, do NOT talk to the person who answers the phone at social security, as they will almost certainly give you wrong info on this. Talk to her worker and/or someone at her local office trained in SSI technical expertise.


  2. You are quick! I found SI 01130.630 in POMS but not sure if it applies to rental property. Thanks for your blog, you’re doing a great service.


    1. Thank you Carol. My guess would be that as long as the property damage charges are a separate bill from the lease/rent that it won’t be a problem for you. You could also try calling your son’s local office and asking for the contact info for the ssi worker assigned to his case (don’t ask questions to the person who answers the phone) 🙂


  3. I’m being asked to pay for (substantial) damages to my adult son’s rental apartment. (He’s on SSI.). I’m also his rep payee. Would paying some or all of these damages cause a reduction in his SSI? I’m not sure if this would be considered a housing expense or not


    1. Hi carol, I’m sorry I’ve never seen any regs addressing this. Common sense says to me that property damage is not the same as rent, but I can’t be completely certain.


  4. Hello,I have a question.My mother lives with me and my son and receives SSI and I am her payee.Originally,she wasnt paying towards any of the household expenses.Her monthly benefit was reduced to $500.Currently,my mom just started paying $400 towards the rent of $823 and I pay for her food and utlities.I reported this change to Social Security.Social Security did not asked me how much the other household expenses are such as food or utilities.Based off of that information,is there anyway you could tell me how they will calculate her monthly benefit now?


  5. First of all, thank you so much for this blog!! I’m new to this and you simply give very useful information!
    My son who is 18 and severely disabled, received his first check a couple of weeks ago. As he never had any income, we’ve always supplied all his needs of food and shelter. Because of that, they applied the 1/3 rule (now I know) and paid him $500. BTW I am his representative payee.
    Before reading your blog, I didn’t have any idea of how to use this money towards our household expenses. Now I have a better idea but am still not sure what we’re gonna do.
    It looks like we could charge him rent but I think that would implicate in reporting that rent as income on our tax return, and I think I’d like to avoid that if possible.
    Also it looks like our son could simply pay his share of our house’s mortgage and utilities, which it’d be 1/4 since we are a family of 4 living in the house.
    Questions: is that right? Would be reasonable for him to pay 1/4 of our mortgage? Do we need to have a written agreement with him in order to show it to SSA? Is it OK if he transfers the amount he’s paying to us from his bank account to our bank account, or should he pay our mortgage company & utilities directly from his bank account?


    1. Hi drifran,

      Yes, I think it will be helpful if you have a written agreement or lease with your son if he starts renting from you, and ideally pay by check or in some way where you can show proof of payment (they may not ask for proof, but just in case it ever comes up).

      For utilities, I don’t think it would matter at all if he pays you or pays the utility company directly.

      For mortgage, I don’t know the rules for this. I can’t think of any reason why SSA would care if the check is to you or to the mortgage company, but I don’t know the IRS rules.

      Also, if you do rent a room, I believe there are some IRS regulations that let you write off different expenses, bringing down the taxable income.

      There are two different ways to figure out how high his rent payment would be, it depends on several factors. More info is here:

      hope this helps.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s