A new proposed rule published in this month’s Federal Register could affect the monthly benefits of Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) recipients. Currently, SSI recipients receive a reduced payment if they are regularly provided meals or housing by a third-party. For example, when an individual who receives SSI benefits lives with a family member who pays for their share of rent, food, or utilities, these accommodation are counted as income. This income in turn will likely reduce their SSI benefit, up to as much as one-third of the monthly payment.

The new proposed rule[1] would alter this arrangement. While housing accommodations would still be considered income, regularly provided meals to SSI recipients could no longer be used to reduce their benefits. This proposed rule would be a welcomed adjustment to the regulations. At Margolius, Margolius & Associates, we believe that individuals receiving SSI benefits should not be penalized in case they receive food assistance from their friends, family, or community organizations. SSI recipients are already at great risk of food insecurity, and the current regulations negatively impact individuals who in good-faith accept help meeting their basic dietary needs. This proposed regulation would therefore be a welcome addition to assist the most vulnerable members of our society.