I found an accessible apartment that works well enough for me and that was the first piece of the puzzle of living an independent life. Now, I have to figure out the rest of the puzzle…
So, as some of you regulars who read my blog may know, my sole income is SSI. What is SSI? According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) who administers the program, SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. SSI pays monthly benefits to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. This is the program that took me years of battling and finally started receiving a couple years ago. Because I have a permanent disability and don’t work in a job, I receive $841/month as my income. From this, I pay for my housing, bills, food, and regular life expenses.
My rent at my income-restricted apartment building is $1,332/month.
So here are the math problems with all of this:
- $841/month income and $1332/month rent doesn’t add up no matter how creative you are at math.
- People existing on SSI, would not even be able to qualify for or live in the income-restricted apartment I’m living in because our income is too low. Minnesota’s Section 42 income-restricted apartments have a minimum income to qualify for the apartments and it’s higher than the annual SSI income. Without a parent or someone helping guarantee that the rent will be paid, these apartments would not accept us.
- I don’t have a lot in my ABLE account (those amounts are restricted, too), so this isn’t sustainable for the long run. The idea was to use my ABLE savings to help pay for rent and buy me some time until I could hopefully get a Section 8 housing voucher.
- Lots of people say that it can take a decade to get a housing voucher.
I’m privileged to have parents who were able to guarantee that I’d be able to pay the rent and have some savings in something called an ABLE Account that I can use for housing and living expenses. Using my ABLE Account savings to help pay my rent doesn’t impact benefits such as SSI and Medical Assistance (also known as Medicaid in other states). Reminder that if my parents actually do provide any in-kind support for me, my SSI will be docked by up to $300.33/month.
So, GOOD NEWS is that through a Housing Stabilization Program for people with disabilities administered by The Arc of Minnesota, I’m on track to receive a housing voucher which means this piece of the puzzle, of affording and paying for my accessible apartment, will be sustainable for me. I wasn’t expecting this to happen so it’s great to see that programs like this are in place and starting to connect vouchers and people with disabilities trying to live independently in our communities.
Guess what? There’s still more to this puzzle! Find out about staffing and consumer directed community support (CDCS) budgets next week!
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