In a move being praised by disability advocates, reports Disability Scoop, the Social Security Administration “is making a big change to the way [it] determines monthly payments for people with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits.”

The proposed rule by the SSA removes food from “the calculation of In-Kind Support and Maintenance (ISM). We also propose to add conforming language to our definition of income, excluding food from the ISM calculation. Accordingly, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applicants and recipients would no longer need to provide information about their food expenses for us to consider.”

As it currently stands, ISM is food, shelter, or both that somebody else provides for the SSI recipient. In-kind support and maintenance is counted as income when SSI benefits are calculated. For example, if someone helps pay for rent, mortgage, food, or utilities, the amount of SSI benefits are reduced.

The SSA says it expects the proposed changes will simplify its rules and “make it easier for SSI applicants and recipients to comply with program requirements … and improve the equitable treatment of food assistance within the SSI program.”

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