We usually focus on how to obtain disability benefits because the process is so complicated, and the waiting period can seem never-ending. Many aspects of your life will be affected in the time between when you apply for benefits and when you ultimately receive them, and one of the most important is your housing situation.
The hard reality is that, while people are unable to work and waiting to be approved for either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, many become homeless or are in danger of becoming homeless.
Complicating matters, physically disabled individuals usually require housing specially designed to accommodate their limitations, including showers and bathrooms with handrails and lower appliances in kitchens for wheelchair accessibility. Because of these accommodations and building code requirements, accessible housing for the disabled can often be more expensive. And if you depend on disability benefits alone to survive, you will likely be priced out of the rental or housing markets without additional sources of income.
With all of this in mind, it is reasonable to wonder whether Social Security Administration (SSA) provides housing for recipients of SSDI or SSI benefits. Unfortunately, the agency does not offer housing or rent assistance, no matter which kind of disability benefits you receive. But the federal government offers programs that may provide housing options.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers the Section 8 housing voucher program. Section 8 housing requires residents to pay a portion of their rent, which is usually 30%. Your local public housing authority (PHA) determines local preferences for who receives priority for the vouchers, but, regardless of where you live, the wait time to receive a voucher can be long, and they are often limited to families with children. To apply for a voucher, you must contact your local PHA. If you do not know where it is, you can find out through HUD’s website available at: www.hud.gov.
Other programs provide long-term housing to individuals with disabilities who would otherwise be homeless. The National Housing Trust Fund maintains housing for extremely low-income and non-elderly homeless families. Housing assistance often comes with help meeting other basic expenses like utilities through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Additionally, Section 811, also known as Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities, provides housing for non-elderly and low-income disabled people. The goal of Section 811 housing is to allow people with disabilities to live in the community as independently as possible by providing them subsidized rental opportunities and access to the support services they need. For individuals who experience severe physical or mental disability and cannot live on their own, federal housing assistance may be available to help pay the cost of living in a group home.
Please remember that if you are receiving SSDI or SSI benefits, you are also protected under the Federal Fair Housing Act. This means that, whether you live in private or public housing, you cannot be denied the right to rent or purchase property on the basis of your disability. Housing providers must also take whatever reasonable steps are necessary to accommodate your disability or offer you the opportunity to make your own modifications.