Posted on Jun 17, 2013

A person receiving SSI would need to use 104 percent of his monthly income to pay the average rent on a one-bedroom apartment in the United States.

Last Month, the Technical Assistance Collaborative and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities released a new report, Priced Out in 2012: The Housing Crisis for People with Disabilities. The authors of the report compared monthly SSI payments to federal government statistics on fair-market rent for studio and one-bedroom apartments in cities across the United States. The report showed that millions of Americans with serious, long-term disabilities cannot afford safe and accessible housing because rent, even for a small studio apartment, often exceeds total government benefits.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) considers housing affordable when rent or mortgage costs account for no more than 30 percent of a person’s income. In 2012, the average monthly SSI payment was $726. This means affordable housing would cost no more than $217. In 2012, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment was $758 per month. This means that an American who receives SSI must use 104 percent of his income to pay rent on a one-bedroom apartment. Even a studio apartment costs 90 percent of SSI benefits. This makes it impossible to afford food, clothing, medication, and other basic needs.

It has been a long time since rent was affordable by HUD definitions. In 1998, the average rental cost of a one-bedroom was much lower, but still equal to 69 percent of SSI benefits.

According to the study, there is no place in the United States where a person receiving SSI can find an affordable, safe, and decent place to live. Because the cost of rent is so high, especially when compared to SSI payments, many disabled Americans must rely subsidized housing. However, there is not enough subsidized housing to go around. More than two million disabled adults live in crowded rooming houses, homeless shelters, institutions, or with family members.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) believes these findings should serve as a call to action.

For more information on this, or for help with your own disability claim, contact us today.

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Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska