Big Changes to SSI: Learn How You Can Benefit Starting September 30

June 10th, 2024 3:00pm PDT

( – The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides essential financial assistance to adults and children with disabilities, as well as adults aged 65 and older who have limited income and resources. On September 30, 2024, a significant change to the SSI program will take effect. This article explores how this new rule, which omits food from In-Kind Support and Maintenance (ISM) calculations, will impact the average American household.


Under the previous SSI rules, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considered any food assistance received from family, friends, or community sources as part of ISM. This counted as unearned income and could reduce an individual’s SSI benefits or affect their eligibility altogether. The new rule changes this by no longer including food in ISM calculations. This adjustment is aimed at simplifying the eligibility process and reducing the administrative burden for both applicants and the SSA​ (SSA)​​.

Detailed Explanation of the New Rule

Starting September 30, 2024, food will no longer be counted as part of ISM calculations for SSI recipients. Previously, any informal food assistance received had to be reported and could potentially lower the SSI payment. By removing food from these calculations, the SSA hopes to streamline the process, making it easier for individuals to qualify for and maintain their SSI benefits. This change will also lead to more consistent and accurate monthly payments​ (SSA)​.

Impact on Eligibility

The new rule significantly lowers the barriers for SSI eligibility. For example, households that previously received food assistance and saw their benefits reduced or were disqualified can now qualify without those penalties. This change is expected to increase the number of households eligible for SSI benefits, providing much-needed financial support to more people​.

Financial Implications

Current SSI recipients are likely to see an increase in their benefits as a result of this rule change. By excluding food from ISM calculations, individuals can receive higher monthly payments. This leads to greater financial stability and predictability, allowing recipients to better plan their finances and meet basic needs such as rent, clothing, and medicine.

Administrative and Reporting Benefits

The new rule also simplifies the application and reporting process. Applicants and recipients will no longer need to report food assistance, reducing the amount of paperwork and documentation required. This change not only makes the process smoother for individuals but also reduces the administrative workload for the SSA, resulting in potential cost savings for the agency​ (SSA)​.

Broader Social and Economic Effects

Excluding food from ISM calculations could indirectly contribute to better food security among low-income households. By not penalizing individuals for receiving informal food assistance, the rule encourages community support networks to continue providing help without affecting recipients’ SSI benefits. This change is expected to improve public health and well-being, as financial stability is closely linked to better health outcomes​ (SSA)​​ (SSA)​.

Criticisms and Challenges

While the new rule is generally seen as a positive step, some experts may raise concerns about potential unintended consequences. For instance, there might be challenges in the initial implementation phase as the SSA adapts to the new regulations. However, these issues are expected to be temporary and manageable​ (SSA)​.

Final Thoughts

The new SSI rule set to take effect on September 30, 2024, represents a significant shift in how food assistance is treated in ISM calculations. By simplifying eligibility requirements and increasing payment amounts, this rule is poised to have a positive impact on the average American household. Eligible individuals are encouraged to explore and apply for SSI benefits under the new guidelines, which promise to enhance financial stability and support for those in need​ (SSA).