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Understanding How Your Clients’ Living Arrangements Can Affect Their SSI Benefits

When an attorney is creating a plan for someone with special needs, it’s critical they understand the different types of income and how specific types reduces Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. They need to know how income is classified and how to calculate in any exclusions.

First things first, there are three different types of income:

Unearned income:

  • Includes cash gifts, payments from annuities and pensions, alimony and support payments, dividends, interest, rents, awards and payments from other benefit programs.
  • Reduces benefits dollar for dollar after the first $20.

Earned Income:

  • Consists of wages, royalties, net earnings from self-employment, and any honoraria received for services rendered.
  • Reduces benefits one dollar for every two dollars after the first $65 earned monthly.

In-Kind Support and Maintenance

  • Actual receipt of food or shelter, or something that can be used to get one of these.
  • Reduces benefits dollar for dollar up to a maximum of $277.

Why is in-kind support and maintenance so important to know?

In-kind support and maintenance is food or shelter that someone else provides for the recipient of public benefits. It’s important to know what is included in this and what is not. The Social Security website explains this in more detail with four detailed examples on how living arrangements can affect your clients’ SSI benefits.

Special needs planning is a complex practice area that many attorneys are intimidated to enter. Use this to your advantage and be the leader in your community.

We will cover this topic in more details, give more examples, and put it all into context for you during the next Special Needs Planning and Drafting Immersion Camp taking place June 13-14 in Denver, CO. This course will provide you the legal-technical foundation you need to confidently expand into this niche practice area.

Special Needs Planning and Drafting Immersion Camp
June 13-14 in Denver, CO and via live webcast
Earn up-to 12.75 CLE hours



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