Must SSI Beneficiary Report Food from Food Bank?
Is going to a church for free food in-kind income for purposes of SSI?
Technically, yes, but it’s likely to fall under the radar. Beneficiaries of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are required to report any income they receive, including gifts. Their monthly SSI benefit is reduced by a dollar for every dollar they receive. In addition, gifts of food and shelter are considered to be in-kind income or, in Social Security language “in-kind support and maintenance (ISM).” As a beneficiary, you are supposed to report the monetary value of any in-kind income you receive with the same reduction of your monthly benefit amount. Fortunately, there’s a cap on the reduction for in-kind income known as the Presumed Maximum Value, which for an individual SSI beneficiary is $281 a month (in 2020). So, even if someone were paying your rent of $1,500 a month, your benefit would only be reduced by this amount.
These are the rules on paper. In practice, however, I’ve never seen food from a food bank or church reported. On the other hand, if an SSI beneficiary is living with a family member who is providing his room and board, that must be reported.