Because the only people who can receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are those with very limited financial means, individuals with SSI often qualify for rental assistance and subsidized housing. While the benefits are not automatic and you may have a wait until suitable housing becomes available, many social service and housing agencies recognize SSI recipients as "low-income," and you may not have to undergo a lengthy financial qualification process.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI is a taxpayer-funded program that provides cash assistance to people who are either disabled or elderly and who have little or no income or savings. The process for qualifying for SSI can be complex, so when a person does receive SSI benefits, other social service agencies often accept SSI as evidence of a person's need. While the federal SSI program itself does not offer housing, receiving SSI may automatically qualify you for some types of low-income housing benefits administered by other programs and agencies.
Public Housing Programs
Public housing authorities manage rental assistance and subsidized housing programs in urban and suburban areas. Depending on the resources available in your community, you may be entitled to rental assistance in privately owned housing (also known as Housing Choice Vouchers or Section 8) or low-rent housing in a public or subsidized housing complex. If you need help understanding your housing options and choices, contact a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved housing counselor for information and advice.
Rural Housing Programs
If you live in a rural community, contact your local United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development office. The USDA offers rental assistance and subsidized housing to people with very low incomes. Explain that you are on SSI when you contact the USDA, as this can help qualify you for these low-rent housing options.
If you receive SSI income, you may be eligible for housing in an assisted living facility. Some states cap the amount of money an assisted living facility can charge SSI recipients for rent, and still others, such as Massachusetts, offer special SSI supplements to help recipients pay assisted living costs. Talk to your SSI caseworker to find out if you are eligible for a supplement or if your state caps assisted living rents.
- National Senior Citizens Law Center: Paying for Assisted Living
- United States Department of Agriculture; Rural Development: Housing and Community Assistance
- Social Security Administration: Understanding Supplemental Security Income SSI and Other Government Programs
- United States Department of Housing and Urban Development: Rental Assistance
- Social Security Administration: Supplemental Security Income: Understanding Supplemental Security Income SSI Overview
Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.