Social Security Expansion Could Allow Food Stamp Recipients to Automatically Qualify for SSI Benefits

By Madz Dizon

May 11, 2024 04:52 AM EDT

Social Security Expansion Allows Food Stamp Recipients to Automatically Qualify for SSI Benefits
A sign alerting customers about SNAP food stamps benefits is displayed in a Brooklyn grocery store on December 5, 2019 in New York City.
(Photo : Scott Heins/Getty Images))

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is on the verge of implementing new regulations that will streamline the process for eligible individuals to receive specific benefits, while also potentially raising payment amounts for certain recipients.

New Policy Impacts SSI and SNAP Benefit Recipients

The change will impact Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a program that offers monthly checks to over 7 million disabled Americans and seniors over 65 who meet certain income requirements.

According to Barrons, the new rules will broaden the scope of what is considered a public-assistance household, marking the first revision in four decades.

At present, individuals receiving SSI may experience reductions in their payments or changes to their eligibility if they receive food assistance, as it may be considered unearned income.

Starting on September 30, the new rules will expand the definition of public-assistance household to include those who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, payments.

The new policy will now include households in which some members receive public assistance, which was previously a requirement.

Now, a public-assistance household is considered to be one that includes an SSI applicant or beneficiary, along with at least one other member who receives means-tested public income maintenance payments.

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SSI Benefits Eligibility Criteria Expanded

According to the Social Security Administration, the recent updates will expand the eligibility criteria for SSI, potentially resulting in increased SSI payments for certain individuals. 

In January 2023, approximately 7.4 million people were receiving monthly SSI payments, with an average amount of $654. The agency stated that the current maximum federal monthly SSI benefit is $943 for eligible individuals and $1,415 for eligible individuals with a spouse.

Another change being made is the expansion of the SSI rental subsidy policy, which is currently in effect in seven states, to apply nationwide.  This change will reduce the likelihood of rental assistance or discounted rates affecting a beneficiary's SSI eligibility or monthly payment amount.

At present, receiving such assistance is classified as unearned income, which may impact an SSI applicant's eligibility for benefits or result in a reduction of their benefit amount.

To be eligible for SSI, individuals must typically have a monthly income of no more than $1,971 from employment and possess assets totaling less than $2,000 per person or $3,000 per couple, according to MarketWatch.

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