The U.S. Social Security Administration provides two ways for disabled individuals to qualify for monthly benefits. Social Security Disability determines eligibility and pays benefits based on whether you worked long enough to qualify for Social Security. Supplemental Security Income bases eligibility on financial need. Although neither program includes direct housing assistance benefits, disabled persons receiving SSDI or SSI receive protections from housing discrimination under the Federal Fair Housing Act, and may also qualify for housing assistance based on their disabled status.
Social Security Disability doesn't provide any housing assistance on its own, but recipients may qualify for federal assistance programs, supportive housing programs or affordable group housing options.
Fair Housing Act
Once you qualify as a disabled person, the federal government protects you from discrimination under the Federal Fair Housing Act. Whether you live in public or private housing, a housing provider can’t refuse to rent or sell a home to you based on your disabled status. In addition, housing providers must take whatever steps are necessary to reasonably accommodate your disability or allow you to make your own modifications. For example, a landlord can designate a front-row parking space and construct (or allow you to construct) a wheelchair ramp. Finally, multifamily housing that consists of four or more units and was built after March 13, 1991 must comply with Fair Housing Act design and construction requirements.
Federal Assistance Programs
Persons receiving SSDI or SSI that also have very low incomes may qualify for public government subsidized housing or the Section 8 rental voucher program. Public government housing regulations make it easier for disabled persons and their families to qualify by allowing an additional $400 deduction for a disabled person and by allowing additional deductions for some medical expenses if the head of household is the disabled person. Section 8 pays a percentage of monthly rent and allows a qualifying disabled person to live in a single-family home, townhouse or apartment that meets Fair Housing Act and Section 8 housing requirements.
Supportive Housing Programs
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has programs specific to disabled adults. The objective is to provide housing assistance and access to supportive services so that despite a disability, low income adults with disabilities can live as independently as possible. The Section 811 Project Rental Assistance Program, implemented in 2012, support very low income households – those within 30 to 50 percent of the median income for the area – and at least one disabled adult.
Group Housing Options
Persons with severe physical or mental disabilities who can’t live on their own can get federal housing assistance to help pay costs for living in a group home. In June 2012, HUD issued a restatement of a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court ruling stating that “public entities” have a responsibility to provide assisted-living housing to disabled persons who “can handle and benefit from community settings” as an alternative to an institutional setting. HUD also clarified that disabled persons living in group housing should have access to public housing funds.
- U.S. Social Security Administration: Benefits for People with Disabilities
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Disability Rights in Housing
- U.S. Social Security Administration: Housing Assistance
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Assisted Housing for Persons with Disabilities