Speak Out to Stop SSI Cuts for Disabled People Receiving Help with Meals or Groceries

On February 15, 2023, the Social Security Administration (SSA) published a proposed regulation that would take a small step toward updating outdated financial rules for the SSI program. SSI provides lifesaving benefits to disabled people and older adults, but people can see their benefits cut by a third if they receive meals or groceries from friends and family. This regulation would stop SSI recipients from being punished for receiving food assistance.

Take Action! Tell SSA that you support this change. Urge SSA to move quickly to make more meaningful updates in the coming months.

Keep reading for template comments that you can adapt.

You can comment online, here.

Comments are due by April 17, 2023.


What to Know about SSI:

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program run by SSA, like Social Security disability or retirement benefits. It provides a small, fixed income for low-income disabled children and adults and adults aged 65 and older.

The maximum SSI benefit is $914 per month. The benefit is often reduced based on other income in the household.  This means that many SSI recipients are struggling financially.

SSI’s financial rules are outdated and punitive.  People can lose SSI if they have more than $2,000 in the bank, or if they marry someone with income.  People can also have their SSI checks cut by one-third (to $609 or less) if they get help from friends or family with paying rent or buying groceries.  This latter rule is called “in-kind support and maintenance” (ISM).

SSI is lifesaving benefit, but it urgently needs updating.  It allows people with disabilities and older adults to stay housed and to buy medicine and other necessities.  It also keeps families together, replacing income for parents of disabled children who cannot work due to caretaking.


What to Know about SSA’s Proposed Regulation

SSA’s proposed regulation would make a small change to ISM.  People who get help from friends and family with buying food would no longer have their checks cut by one-third.

This proposed regulation is a good step.  While most SSI recipients don’t see benefits reductions due to ISM, all SSI recipients have to report their finances for ISM calculations.  The regulation would make the SSI program easier for SSA to administer, because it would require a little less reporting.  SSA would have more resources to make the SSI program work better.

SSA can do other things to update SSI, and it should act quickly.  For example, it should move quickly to issue regulations that would exclude some SSI recipients (such as SNAP recipients or people with very high housing costs) from ISM reporting altogether.

Ultimately, Congress should act by eliminating ISM altogether and updating other financial rules like the asset limit and the marriage penalty.

You can read SSA’s full proposed rule, here.


Template Comments for SSA’s Proposed Regulation:

** PLEASE NOTE: Adapt your answer from the example below, and submit your comment by April 17, 2023. Click here for the comment page. **

I support the proposed regulation to eliminate food from in-kind support and maintenance (ISM) calculations.  It is a small but helpful first step in updating SSI financial rules.  People should not be punished if they get help from family or friends with buying groceries.

I urge SSA to move quickly to make more meaningful changes to SSI financial rules like ISM.  SSI is a lifesaving benefit but its rules are outdated.  I support efforts to make SSI’s financial rules work better for disabled people and older adults.”