Could you pay rent to maximize SSI benefits? Typically, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and Social Security benefits are increased based on an index that measures how earnings are keeping up with the cost of items such as food and gasoline. If there's a benefit increase – and there's no guarantee that there will be one every year – it's given to all beneficiaries. Individual situations, such as your rent being raised or high medical costs, don't influence whether SSI or Social Security benefits for each person will increase each year.
However, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA), whether you pay rent, and how much you pay, will likely affect how much you receive in benefits. And you can use your SSI or Social Security benefits to pay for your rent or even utilities. So, how much does SSI pay for rent? Well, that depends on what you get and your rental expenses.
SSI and Social Security benefit increases are called cost-of-living adjustments. Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issues the cost-of-living adjustments, which are based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W. The CPI-W usually considers the costs of basic goods such as food, beverages, housing, medical care and education in its calculations.
Amount of Benefit Increases
Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics looks at the CPI-W numbers and compares them to the CPI-W index from the last time a cost-of-living adjustment had occurred. Over the past few years, the SSA says the CPI-W numbers have increased strongly.
So, SSA uses the most recent data to adjust the SSI and Social Security benefits annually, depending on the rate of inflation as the CPI-W measures it. So, for these reasons, SSI and Social Security benefit recipients will get 5.9 percent more in 2022, notes the SSA.
Medicare Part B
If you're on Social Security, you may have opted for Part B of Medicare. According to the Medicare website, Part B provides doctor services and has a monthly premium, which usually goes up each year. However, Social Security has a "hold harmless" provision, though, that will keep many Social Security recipients from having to pay an increase in Part B premiums when there is no cost-of-living increase.
Typically, higher income households receiving Social Security and those new to Medicare have to pay the higher Part B premium. If you're on SSI and Medicare, you should also be eligible for Medicaid, which will pay your Part B premium so you won't have your benefit lowered either.
Other Assistance for Rent
If your rent is going up, but your benefits aren't, you may be eligible for other assistance. Many urban areas offer public housing, which is for the low-income elderly (usually age 65 or older), disabled and families with children.
Public housing rent is usually based on your income. Housing choice vouchers, also known as Section 8, can pay a portion of your rent, but there may be a waiting list in your area. You may also want to speak to your landlord about your situation and ask for your rent increase to be waived.
Melinda Hill Sineriz has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She worked as an editorial assistant for Forward Movement Publications in Cincinnati, Ohio. She wrote for several years for allmusic.com and edited and wrote a chapter for a book with Wooster Press. She graduated from Miami University in Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She has a master's degree in teaching.