As we have discussed this week, the most challenging obstacle for many individuals with disabilities is to find a suitable, safe, clean, and affordable place to live. Many individuals with disabilities rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Section 8 housing vouchers, distributions from a Special Needs Trust (SNT), or a combination of these options to pay for their housing needs. Section 8 vouchers and SNTs are often necessary to assist with housing costs because SSI alone is usually insufficient. According to an advocacy group, a 2003 study found that people who are dependent on the SSI program to meet their housing needs were priced out of every housing market area in the United States. Of the nation’s 2,702 market areas, there was not a single area where modestly priced rents for efficiency or one-bedroom units were affordable for a disabled person dependent on SSI benefits. Specifically, the average rent for a modest one-bedroom rental unit in the United States was equal to 105 percent of the SSI benefit amount. There are two main issues when an individual is eligible for Section 8 and is also the beneficiary of an SNT: (1) the effect on Section 8 benefits if the recipient establishes a SNT with their own assets; and (2) the effect on Section 8 benefits when distributions are made from a SNT.
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