Why do many clients receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits only receive $490 each month instead of $735, and what can we do about it? In many cases, the reason is “in-kind support and maintenance” (ISM). A person who receives shelter and food from a friend or family member they live with is receiving in-kind support and maintenance. The Social Security Administration (SSA) counts that support as income and lowers their benefit.
The ISM rule is unique to the SSI program, and causes a lot of confusion for recipients, advocates, and SSA. This free webinar, In-Kind Support and Maintenance, explores the ins and outs of ISM, provides examples of how the rule works, and offers strategies for dealing with the rule.
As SSI is a means-tested program, applicants and recipients must meet several financial eligibility criteria on an ongoing basis. The income and resources rules, including “in-kind support and maintenance,” are particularly complicated. These rules can cause significant hardship for low-income people trying to survive on SSI. Giving advocates the tools to successfully navigate the rules on behalf of their clients can make a big difference. The recipient in the example above could have an additional $245 per month for necessities like health care expenses, household expenses, transportation, and other basic needs.
Kate Lang, Senior Staff Attorney, Justice in Aging
John Whitelaw, Supervising Attorney, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia