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In-Kind Support and Maintenance (ISM) Reductions and Their Impact on SSI Benefits

Once found medically disabled and eligible for Supplemental Social Security Insurance (SSI), whether in the initial application stage or by an Administrative Law Judge, the recipient’s determination is sent to their local Social Security Field Office for processing. There, the Social Security Administration (SSA) schedules and conducts a Pre-effectuation Review Conference (PERC) usually within 30 to 60 days from the date of the recipient’s disability allowance.

What is a PERC?

This PERC appointment, usually conducted in the form of a phone call lasting anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes, allows SSA to determine what amount of supplemental income the individual is eligible for based on the 2022 federally capped SSI amount of $841. 

During the PERC, SSA inquires about the individual’s financial situation and, in particular, their living arrangement. It is necessary for the individual to provide as accurate a description of their living situation as possible in order to reflect the correct amount of their award.

What Is an ISM Deduction?

In-kind support and maintenance deductions, otherwise known as ISM deductions or shelter deductions, play a major role in the breakdown of a recipient’s SSI benefits and are arguably the most common deduction a recipient may receive on SSI. Past due and monthly benefits can be significantly impacted based on the circumstances of the recipient’s living arrangement.

What Does an ISM Deduction Look Like?

Below is an image that reflects what an ISM deduction looks like to an individual who otherwise has no other deductions.

How We Figured Your Payment For July 2022 Through October 2022

Your Payment Amount
The most SSI money the law allows us to pay $841.00
Minus (-) “Total income we count” (see below) -280.33
Total Monthly SSI Payment for July 2022 through October 2022 $560.67
Your Income Other Than Your SSI

Income you receive in May 2022 through August 2022 affects your payment for July 2022 through October 2022

Value of food or shelter $300.33
By law we don’t count $20.00 of above income -20.00
Total income we count $280.33

In the event that an individual financially qualifies for SSI but receives free shelter, SSA will deduct one third ($280.33) of the SSI max ($841), leaving the total eligibility amount at $560.67 for any month the individual received free shelter.

Does My Living Arrangement Affect my Benefits?

Some of the reasons your benefits may be reduced due to ISM include the following:

  • Live in your own dwelling but someone else pays for your food and housing costs.
  • Live in someone else’s dwelling and pay nothing or less than the market value of your food and housing costs.
  • SSA does not recognize bartering as a form of payment for the cost of housing.
  • If you are in a hospital or nursing home for a whole month and Medicaid covers over one-half of the cost of your care.
  • If you are in a public or private medical treatment facility paid at more than half the cost of your care by Medicaid.
  • In this circumstance, your benefits will be reduced to $30.

What If I Owe Rent?

If you owe rent, you will need to provide your local field office with a rental agreement that is signed and dated by you and your lender (the individual you owe rent to). SSA will determine the validity of the loan agreement based upon the following details:

  • Oral or written agreement / contract
  • In effect at the time ISM was provided
  • SSA does not recognize payment for food or shelter before eligibility.
  • Lastly, the loan agreement needs to be in the amount of the market value of the place you are living. 

If you have any additional questions regarding ISM deductions and rental agreements, speak with the experienced Social Security Disability attorneys at Kerr, Robichaux & Carroll for free today.

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