Public Notices and Press Releases

Social Security Administration Simplifies SSI with Major Rule Change on Food Assistance

Food Excluded from Supplemental Security Income Calculations to Improve Equity and Efficiency

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced an update to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) regulations, marking a significant shift in how In-Kind Support and Maintenance (ISM) calculations are determined. 

Effective September 30, 2024, the SSA will no longer include food in the ISM calculations, a move aimed at simplifying the administration of SSI benefits and making the rules easier for the public to understand.

This regulatory adjustment also introduces conforming amendments to the definition of income, aligning with the overarching goal to enhance the equitable treatment of food assistance within the SSI program. Furthermore, the rule revises the treatment of income received constructively, clarifying long-standing policy interpretations to better serve applicants and recipients.

The background to this update highlights the necessity of the change, focusing on the complex nature of accounting for in-kind receipt of food in ISM calculations. The decision, rooted in an extensive analysis and public commentary period initiated with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on February 15, 2023, reflects a commitment to equity, reducing administrative burdens, and ensuring that food assistance is treated uniformly, regardless of its source.

Under the new rule, ISM calculations will exclusively consider shelter expenses, such as rent, mortgage payments, and utilities, excluding food expenses entirely. This change simplifies the evaluation process for both applicants and SSA administrators, potentially reducing the frequency of benefit recalculations and the risk of payment errors associated with fluctuating food costs and reporting.

The SSA’s initiative to omit food from ISM calculations is justified by the complexity and variability of food assistance and its disproportionate impact on low-income individuals, particularly those with disabilities who are more likely to experience food insecurity. 

By eliminating this aspect from the calculation, the SSA aims to promote greater equity within the SSI program, recognizing the diverse sources of food support that recipients might access, from family and community networks to charitable or government programs.

For further details on these changes or for assistance with eligibility and benefits, individuals are encouraged to contact the SSA directly through their provided contact channels. 

This regulatory update represents a pivotal shift towards simplifying the SSI benefits process, emphasizing the SSA’s dedication to improving service delivery and the well-being of its beneficiaries.

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