Navigating the Complexities of ISM(In-Kind Support and Maintenance) in Supplemental Security Income

Navigating the maze of government programs and regulations can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to securing vital assistance for seniors and disabled individuals. At Lineage Legal, LLC, our experienced team specializes in elder law and estate planning, providing valuable insights into SSI eligibility, benefits, and maintenance along with other government programs.

Understanding SSI: A Lifeline for Those in Need

Supplemental Security Income is a federal program designed to provide financial assistance to aged, blind, and disabled individuals with limited income and resources. Administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), SSI serves as a lifeline for millions of Americans, offering essential support to help cover basic needs such as food, shelter, and medical expenses. Originally created in 1972, the program’s asset limits have changed very little over the last fifty years.

Income and Asset Limits: Know Where You Stand

When applying for SSI benefits, it’s crucial to understand the program’s income and asset limits. As of 2024, individuals must have income and assets below certain thresholds to qualify for SSI:

-Income Limits: The maximum monthly income allowed for SSI eligibility is set by the federal government. This includes income from various sources such as wages, Social Security benefits, pensions, and more. It’s important to note that not all income is counted equally, as certain exclusions and deductions may apply. SSI is generally for individuals who don’t earn more than $1,971 from work each month. The income limit increases for couples and when parents apply for children.

– Asset Limits: In addition to income, SSI applicants must also meet strict asset limitations. Countable assets include cash, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and other resources that can be converted into cash. As of 2024, the asset limit for an individual is $2,000, while for couples, it is $3,000. Certain assets, such as a primary residence and one vehicle, are typically exempt from consideration.

In-Kind Support and Maintenance: Understanding Its Impact

One factor that can significantly affect SSI benefits is in-kind support and maintenance (ISM). ISM refers to the provision of food, shelter, or other basic necessities by a third party. While ISM can provide valuable assistance, it may also impact SSI eligibility and payment amounts.

Under SSI rules, the value of ISM received by an individual is considered income and can reduce the amount of their SSI benefit. SSI requires the receipt to disclose any significant help they receive from friends and family such as gifts, housing (even couchsurfing), help with groceries, etc.; all things that can negatively go against the value of the benefit. Calculating the value of ISM and its impact on benefits can be complex, requiring careful consideration of various factors.

Facing the Statistics: Challenges in SSI Benefit Maintenance

Each year, thousands of SSI recipients face challenges in maintaining their benefits, with many experiencing suspensions or reductions due to changes in income, assets, or other eligibility factors. According to recent estimates, 70,000 recipients will have their benefits temporarily suspended and close to 40,000 recipients have their benefits terminated due to going over the asset limit [1]. In many cases, ISM can lead to significant overpayment of SSI benefits, leaving recipients facing the daunting prospect of owing the government thousands of dollars once the SSA detects the error. In many instances, recipients find themselves in a precarious position, as they often lack the financial means to repay these substantial amounts, given their limited income and assets.

How We Can Help

Supplemental Security Income is a vital source of support for seniors and disabled individuals facing financial hardship, but understanding its intricacies is essential for securing and maintaining benefits. With Lineage Legal, LLC, you’ll have the expertise and advocacy you need to navigate the complexities of government benefits and secure the assistance you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward financial peace of mind.

Contact Us:
For personalized legal guidance tailored to your specific situation, please contact Lineage Legal, LLC today. We are available via:

Phone: 855-587-1687

Take the first step towards securing your future by reaching out to us today.

Amber Gonska
Attorney at Law, Lineage Legal, LLC
262-686-1687 |


The information provided on this blog is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Viewing or using any content on this blog does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The content may not reflect the most current legal developments, verdicts, or settlements, and should not be considered a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

[1] Romig, Kathleen, Nuñez, Luis, & Sherman, Arloc. (September 20, 2023). The Case for Updating SSI Asset Limits: Raising or Eliminating Limits Would Reduce Administrative Burdens Without Dramatically Increasing Enrollment.