Illustration of Paying for housing and food.

Good News for SSI Recipients Regarding Rent and Food

Currently, if an individual who receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is renting an apartment or room for less than the fair market value, Social Security will 1) declare they are receiving In-Kind Support and Maintenance (ISM) and 2) reduce their SSI monthly benefit by up to one-third.

On September 30, 2024, Social Security will change how they look at rental agreements for SSI recipients. Social Security will consider this a business arrangement for the individual to pay a lower rent if the individual is paying the SSI Presumed Maximum Value (PMV) amount, which for 2024 is $314 per month.

What does this mean for SSI recipients? If you are living in an apartment and you have an agreement with the owner that you will pay less than the fair market rate for rent but at least $314 per month, your SSI will not be lowered.

The other major change is that the cost of food provided to an SSI individual will no longer be considered ISM. Prior to this rule, if you lived in someone else’s home and they provided meals for you at no charge, the value of that food would be deducted from your monthly SSI payment. As of September 30, 2024, that will no longer be the case.

Overall, as of September 30, 2024, it will be easier for individuals receiving SSI to make ends meet. It also means that a parent of a child who receives SSI can rent an unused apartment or condominium to them. If the child who receives SSI pays the PMV amount in rent, they will no longer see a reduction in their monthly SSI amount. This will give them more money each month to live on.

SSA logo

SSA announces changes that will make it easier to appeal and/or repay overpayments.

Historically, if someone had a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) overpayment, the Social Security Administration (SSA) would withhold their entire benefit amount until it was repaid. To avoid this, individuals had to enter into a repayment agreement with SSA, typically repaying the full amount within 36 months, with some exceptions based on financial ability.

Under the new rules, SSA will only take 10% of the monthly SSDI cash benefit, and the repayment period has been increased to 60 months.  Once again, there may be exceptions based on financial ability.

Overpayments often occur when individuals return to work and fail to notify SSA or do so belatedly.  However, some overpayments result from SSA not promptly acting on income reports.  To address this, under the new rules, the burden of proof for an overpayment has been shifted to SSA instead of the individual.  This means SSA must investigate if the individual had been reporting wages and assume responsibility for the overpayment if necessary.

Will these changes eliminate overpayments altogether? Likely not.  SSDI recipients are still responsible for notifying SSA when they return to work and reporting their work income each month.  By regularly and timely reporting income to SSA, if an overpayment does occur, it will be easier to have it waived under the new rules. Additionally, if an overpayment is due to the SSDI recipient not reporting their income at all or in a timely manner, the new rules make it less burdensome to repay the overpayment.

For more information:

Social Security Overpayments

wooden house with a escrow tag

HUD Earned Income Disregard and the Affordable Connectivity Plan programs are coming to an end. But it is not all bad news.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Earned Income Disregard (EID) program stopped as of January 1, 2024, which means no new applications are being accepted.  However, if you were in the program on or before January 1, 2024, you will be able to stay in it until you complete it. HUD EID was a work incentive that made it easier for individuals to return to work.  It changed the rent calculation by disregarding 100% of earned income for the first 12 months of work and 50% of work income for the second 12 months of work.

However, it is not all bad news as HUD has another work incentives program called the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program. Under FSS, when rent increases due to work income, a portion of the rent increase goes into an escrow account and, in some cases, may be matched by the housing authority.  The FSS program runs for 5 years and once successfully completed, the funds in the escrow account are released to the individual.  The program is available to anyone living in public housing or with a Section 8 voucher including Project-Based vouchers and specialty vouchers.

To learn more about the FSS program, ask to speak with the FSS Coordinator at the housing authority or provider.  Massachusetts state housing also has a version of the FSS program offered through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

The second program that is coming to an end is the federal Affordable Connectivity Plan (ACP), which was put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic to provide low-cost high-speed internet service to rural and low-income individuals, including individuals with disabilities.  Applications for the program stopped in January 2024 and the program will end in May 2024.

For more information on the FSS Program:

For more information on the ACP program: