You can get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if you live with an adult son or daughter, or with siblings, cousins or unrelated roommates, for that matter. Such an arrangement can reduce your monthly benefit, though, depending on how much you contribute to food and shelter costs for the household.
Here’s why: If someone else is partially or fully covering these expenses for you, the Social Security Administration (SSA), which oversees the SSI program, may consider that in-kind income — and income is a factor in calculating benefits.
Each year, Social Security sets a maximum federal benefit for SSI, which provides safety-net payments for people who are disabled, blind or 65 and older and in financial need. For 2023 the maximum monthly payment, known as the federal benefit rate, is $1,371 for a married couple if both spouses get SSI and $914 for an individual.
Those figures are starting points. The SSA can reduce and possibly eliminate the monthly payment based on how much you earn from work or receive in cash or direct support from other sources, such as investments, government programs, or relatives and friends.
Social Security does not factor in all of your income in calculating this benefit deduction. For example, the first $20 of most income you receive each month from any source is exempt. So is the first $65 of work earnings each month and half of any earnings over $65.
The SSA also caps how much your SSI payment can be cut if someone provides you with food and shelter, using one of two methods: the one-third reduction provision or the presumed maximum value (PMV) rule.
For the purposes of this calculation, shelter costs include:
- Mortgage, including property insurance required by the mortgage holder
- Real property taxes, less any tax rebate or credit
- Trash pickup
- Utilities (that is, heating, gas, electricity, water and sewer)
Other household expenses, such as cable bills, phone bills, internet service and groceries other than food, do not count.
It’s important to note that neither the one-third provision nor the PMV rule applies if the person paying your food and shelter expenses is a spouse you live with. The same goes for a child beneficiary living with one or both parents. In these situations, the spouse’s or parent’s income could affect benefits via the SSA’s “deeming” rules, but living expenses are not a factor.