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How the Social Security Administration Expanded SSI Access in 2024

A woman and a child are at a receptionist's desk in a TANF office.

Supplemental Security Income is a disability benefits program offered to people with disabilities and/or limited financial means. Historically, qualification for SSI has been narrow; people have to be severely limited in income and resources to get monthly SSI payments. In 2024, the monthly payment amounts are $943 for an eligible individual and $1,415 for an eligible couple.

The Social Security Administration is implementing a number of new rules that will expand SSI access, beginning in September 2024. With these new changes, many people previously disqualified from SSI payments may be able to appeal.

How People Typically Qualify For SSI

To be eligible for monthly SSI payments, someone who is disabled, blind or 65 or older has to have limited income and resources.

In the case of SSI evaluations, “limited income” refers to money you earn from work, money you receive from sources such as Social Security benefits, workers compensation, and/or unemployment benefits, or informal resources you might receive.

“Limited resources” refers to things you own, such as cash, bank accounts, land, personal property and other resources that can be turned into cash to use for food and shelter. For the purposes of SSI eligibility, these resources are given a monetary value to calculate how much you have. Not all resources are counted. To qualify for SSI, individuals cannot have more than $2,000 in countable resources and couples cannot have more than $3,000.

Changes To SSI Eligibility In 2024

Informal Food Assistance No Longer Counts Against Your SSI Application

When evaluating eligibility for monthly SSI payments, the Social Security Administration counts “unearned income” as a form of income and resources. Unearned income used to include food and shelter received from friends, family or other community supports. This form of unearned income is called “in-kind support and maintenance” (ISM). The monetary value of ISM can reduce the payments a recipient of SSI receives or disqualify an SSI applicant entirely.

Under the new rule, food expenses no longer count as ISM. Instead, only shelter expenses such as room, rent, mortgage payments, taxes and utilities will count toward ISM calculations. According to the press release, this new policy “removes a critical barrier for SSI eligibility due to an applicant’s or recipient’s receipt of informal food assistance from friends, family and community networks of support.”

SSI Recipients Can Now Receive SNAP

Under a new rule from the Social Security Administration, people receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income.

The new rule expands the definition of a public assistance household to include households receiving SNAP payments and households where only some members receive public assistance.

A public assistance household as defined by the Social Security Administration was previously defined as a household where every member receives some kind of public income-maintenance (PIM) payment. These sources of public income include TANF payments, SSI, needs-based state or local government assistance programs, disaster relief or emergency assistance, or refugee cash assistance.

The definition of a public assistance household now includes households that have both an SSI applicant or recipient and another household receiving some kind of PIM payment.

An applicant or recipient of SSI living in a public assistance household will not be assumed to be receiving assistance from other members of their household. As a result, PIM payments given to other household members will not be counted as income, allowing more people to qualify for SSI payments (or even a higher SSI payment per month).

Rental Subsidy For SSI Recipients to be Expanded Nationwide

Under old rules, only specific states had a rental subsidy policy that allowed people to apply for SSI without having rental assistance count against them. These states include Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, New York, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin. In other states, rental assistance can affect someone’s eligibility for SSI or monthly payment amount.

Under a new rule, this advantageous rental subsidy policy will apply to all SSI applicants nationwide. People in need of SSI assistance across the country will be able to apply for benefits without worrying that rental assistance will negatively impact their likelihood of attaining them.

Have more questions about SSI eligibility? Contact our Social Security disability attorneys!

Supplemental Security Income and other Social Security disability benefits can be a lifeline for people struggling with disabilities and financial access. If you or a loved one has a disability that impairs their ability to work, or has very limited financial means, contact our Social Security disability attorneys today.

You can request a free consultation by filling out our contact form, emailing us at info@ndallc.com, or calling us at 833-MY-DISABILITY (833-693-4722).

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