Introduction:

Social Security is an essential program that provides financial support to millions of people, including seniors, those with disabilities, and children. Recently, the Social Security Administration proposed a change in how benefits are calculated for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients, which could result in bigger monthly payments. In this blog post, we will explore the proposed rule and its potential impact.

Social Security’s Latest Rule Could Mean Bigger Payments

Proposed Rule: Removing Food from Calculation of In-Kind Support and Maintenance (ISM)

The proposed rule, published on the Federal Register earlier this month, would remove food from the calculation of in-kind support and maintenance (ISM), which is unearned income in the form of food and/or shelter. Currently, SSI payments are reduced by one-third if a person or couple is living in another person’s home and receiving food and shelter support from that person. This reduction is based on the value of the food and shelter support, which is considered in-kind support and maintenance.

Under the proposed rule, SSI applicants and recipients would no longer need to provide information about their food expenses for the agency to consider in its ISM calculations. The aim of the proposed rule is to simplify the policy and promote equity by not disadvantaging an already vulnerable population when they receive food assistance.

Potential Impact of Proposed Rule

A. Increased financial security for impacted beneficiaries: The proposed rule would provide increased financial security to impacted beneficiaries by potentially increasing their monthly payments. The reduction in SSI payments due to ISM can have a significant impact on individuals and families, particularly those who rely on SSI as their sole source of income.

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B. Consistent treatment of food support regardless of source: The proposed rule would provide consistent treatment of food support regardless of source. Currently, the SSA considers food assistance as ISM, regardless of whether it is received from a government program or a charitable organization. The proposed rule would ensure that all food support is treated equally, reducing confusion and streamlining the application and compliance process.

C. Reduction of unduly burdensome reporting requirements: The proposed rule would reduce unduly burdensome reporting requirements for SSI applicants and recipients. Currently, individuals must report all food assistance they receive, including food stamps and meals received at homeless shelters. The proposed rule would remove the need for such reporting, making the process less onerous for beneficiaries.

Public Comment Period and Timeline for Approval

The proposed rule will be up for public comment through April 17, 2023, before it can be finalized. Public comments provide an opportunity for individuals and organizations to express their support or concerns about the proposed rule. After the public comment period ends, the SSA will review and consider the feedback received before making any final decisions. No timeline has been given on when the proposed rule might be approved and put into action.

Conclusion

The proposed rule has the potential to impact millions of SSI beneficiaries positively, providing increased financial security, consistent treatment of food support, and reducing unduly burdensome reporting requirements. Social Security benefits are critical for millions of people, particularly seniors, who rely on them as their sole source of income in retirement. Staying up-to-date on changes to Social Security policies is essential for those who rely on the program, ensuring they receive the maximum benefits available to them.

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