TN 108 (08-23)

SI 00835.060 Transients, Homeless Individuals, and LA/ISM Determinations

A. Definition

A transient is an individual with no permanent living arrangement, i.e., no fixed place of residence. A transient is neither a member of a household nor a resident of an institution.

EXAMPLES:  A transient can be:

  • a homeless individual (i.e., someone who sleeps in doorways, overnight shelters, parks, bus stations, etc.); or

  • a person who stays with a succession of friends or relatives and has no permanent living arrangement on the first moment of the month.

B. Policy -- transients and homeless individuals

Consider the following policies when determining ISM for transients and homeless individuals.

1. Excludable assistance

Some or all of the assistance that a transient or homeless individual receives may be excluded from income.

  • The homeless frequently receive food, shelter, or both from needs-based programs offered by charitable nonprofit organizations in the community. These organizations are often certified by the State to be providers of support and maintenance assistance (SMA). SMA is not income when the requirements in SI 00830.605 are met.

  • Other excludable assistance includes State or local assistance based on need (SI 00830.175), medical and social services (SI 00815.050), and food stamps (SI 00830.635).

2. ISM of no value

Although a homeless individual may receive food or shelter that they have not paid for, that food or shelter may have no value. Examples of ISM of no value include discarded food (such as when a restaurant discards leftover breakfast items after breakfast serving hours end) and shelter which has no market value (such as sleeping in an abandoned building, in a park, or in a vehicle). Receipt of such items would not result in countable ISM.

3. First of the month rule

Under the first of the month (FOM) rule, ISM is determined based on the individual’s permanent residence as of the first moment of the month (SI 00835.500). Because a transient or homeless individual has no permanent residence, the FOM rule does not apply and ISM, if any, is countable from every place the individual lives during the month.

4. Individual has permanent residence as of first of month

If an individual had a permanent residence as of the first moment of a month but later in the month becomes a transient or homeless, determine LA and ISM for that month based on the first-of-the-month residence (SI 00835.500).

5. State and/or county of residence

If there is a question about the individual’s residency, see SI 01410.030 for instructions for determining the State and/or county of residence for a transient or homeless individual.

6. Deeming considerations

See SI 01310.140 for deeming policy for individuals who do not have a residence.

7. Homeless married couples

If both members of a married couple are eligible for SSI and homeless, they should be treated as eligible individuals. To be an eligible couple, they must live together in a household. Living together in a homeless shelter or an automobile is not considered living in a household (SI 00501.154).

C. Procedure -- interviewing transients and the homeless

When interviewing, consider any special needs or limitations that a transient or homeless individual may have. These individuals often need special help to apply for, or continue receiving, SSI benefits. For example, a homeless individual is not likely to have documents, receipts, phone numbers, former addresses, etc. readily available. Adjudicators should assume that transient or homeless individuals need assistance in providing evidence of their living arrangements and in rebutting the PMV.

D. Procedure -- documenting transient/homeless status

Document the file with enough information regarding an individual's circumstances to support the determination that they are transient or homeless. NOTE: If the transient or homeless individual has a pending disability claim, ensure the disability folder is flagged homeless. For instructions on identifying and flagging these disability cases, see DI 11005.004.

1. Non-MSSICS cases

For non-MSSICS cases, use the “Remarks” section of the paper application form or a Report of Contact to record pertinent information

2. SSI Claims System cases

If the case is being processed in the SSI Claims System:

  • On the Residence Address and Jurisdiction page, select TRANSIENT for the RESIDENCE TYPE;

  • Input the RESIDENCE START DATE as the date that the individual became transient or homeless;

  • Document the individual's allegations about where they have lived on the Residence Address and Jurisdiction page under person remarks;

  • Use In-Kind Support and Maintenance page to document the individual's allegations of food and shelter received. If you determine that the only food and shelter received has no value, answer “No” in the “DOES ISM HAVE VALUE” field and document under person remarks what the individual received.

E. Procedure -- determining ISM

1. Transient/homeless as of first of the month

If an individual is a transient or homeless as of the first moment of a month:

  • Determine that the individual is in FLA/A;

  • Consider food and shelter received from all sources throughout that month and determine if any countable ISM was received;

  • Determine the value of ISM, if any, using the PMV rule;

  • Before counting ISM, consider whether the food and shelter is excludable (e.g., HEA/SMA provision, ABON, ISM of no value);

  • If ISM will be counted, advise the individual of rebuttal rights (SI 00835.320).

2. Rebuttal of PMV

a. When rebuttal is appropriate

Per SI 00835.320, always offer the individual the opportunity for rebuttal of the PMV if:

  • the file contains no evidence of the actual value of the food and shelter; or

  • the individual does not know the value of the food and shelter; or

  • the individual alleges an actual value which is less than the PMV.

b. Obtaining evidence of rebuttal

  • Accept whatever evidence the transient or homeless individual can provide concerning the CMV of food and shelter received in the month.

  • If the evidence is not preferred evidence, assist the individual in obtaining it. Preferred evidence of the food and shelter received is a statement of the CMV (signed or on an RC) from the provider.

  • If preferred evidence cannot be obtained, use whatever evidence the individual has furnished or you have acquired to determine the value of ISM. Do not rely solely on the individual's statement to support rebuttal of the PMV.

  • Document the rebuttal issue following the requirements in SI 00835.320D.

3. Case example

The following example illustrates the policies that apply to determining ISM for transient and homeless individuals.

Situation: John comes into an SSA field office on 1/15/04 for a redetermination. John reports that John started living in their automobile on 9/15/03 because John could not afford a permanent place to live. While living in the automobile, John received some food from a food bank and bought the rest.. From 11/16/03 through 11/27/03 John stayed with a sibling who did not charge for food and shelter. John left the sibling's home on 11/28/03 and resumed living in the automobile. With the onset of winter weather, a local church opened up a temporary shelter. John began staying at the church’s shelter on 12/29/03. The church shelter provides meals and sleeping quarters at no cost to those who stay.

Analysis: Based on the case facts provided during the interview, the claims representative (CR) determined that John is a homeless individual and that their LA/ISM should be determined under the rules for transients/homeless as of 10/1/03. The CR determined that living in an automobile did not result in countable ISM. The HEA/SMA precedent file indicates that the food bank is certified as a provider of support and maintenance assistance (SMA), so the food from the food bank is not countable as ISM.

However, no exclusion applies to the food and shelter provided by John's sibling. So the CR must develop the value of the food and shelter John received from 11/16/03 through 11/27/03. Because John is a transient, the first of the month rule does not apply to the ISM determination. Any ISM received in a month is countable. When the CR notified John about the PMV rule and rebuttal rights, John provided evidence that the actual value of the food and shelter for 11/03 was $130. Since the actual value is less than the PMV, the actual value of $130 is counted as ISM for 11/03.

The precedent file also indicates that the church is a certified provider of SMA, so no ISM is counted for the food and shelter provided to John by the church shelter. In summary, John is in FLA/A from 10/03 through 1/04. John is charged with $130 of ISM in 11/03. No countable ISM was received in 10/03 or 12/03. Through 1/15/04, the date of the interview, no ISM had been received in 1/04.

F. References

To Link to this section - Use this URL:
SI 00835.060 - Transients, Homeless Individuals, and LA/ISM Determinations - 08/14/2023
Batch run: 08/14/2023