TN 60 (02-10)

SI 01130.100 The Home Exclusion

Social Security Act 1613; 20 CFR 416.1210; 20 CFR 416.1212

A. Definitions

1. The home

An individual’s home is property in which he or she has an ownership interest and that serves as his or her principal place of residence. It can include:

  • the shelter in which he or she lives;

  • the land on which the shelter is located; and

  • related buildings on such land.

2. Principal place of residence

An individual's principal place of residence is the dwelling the individual considers his or her established or principal home and to which, if absent, he or she intends to return. It can be real or personal property, fixed or mobile, and located on land or water.

3. Dependent relative

  1. Dependency may be of any kind (e.g., financial, medical, etc.).

  2. Relative  means:

    • child, stepchild, or grandchild;

    • parent, stepparent, or grandparent;

    • aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew;

    • brother or sister, stepbrother or stepsister, half brother or half sister;

    • cousin; or

    • in-law.

4. Equitable ownership

An “equitable” ownership interest in property can result from personal considerations or from:

  • making mortgage payments;

  • making or paying for additions to a shelter; or

  • making improvements to a shelter.

(For the definition of equitable ownership, see SI 01110.515A.2.b.)

5. Shared ownership

Shared ownership of property means that two or more people own it concurrently. For information regarding different types of shared ownership, see SI 01110.510.

B. Policy for excluding the home

1. Exclusion of the home

An individual's home, regardless of value, is an excluded resource. For the definition of a home, see SI 01130.100A.1.

2. Exclusion of the home includes land on which the shelter is located

For purposes of excluding “the land on which the shelter is located” (see SI 01130.100A.1), it is not necessary that the individual own the shelter itself.

EXAMPLE:  If an individual lives on his or her own land in someone else's trailer, the land meets the definition of a home and is excluded. However, if the individual does not own the shelter, it is necessary to consider whether the shelter results in in-kind support and maintenance (ISM) (e.g., rent-free shelter). For information on rent-free shelter, see SI 00835.370.

3. Exclusion of the home includes adjoining property and related buildings

a. Land

The home exclusion applies not only to the plot of land on which the home is located, but also to any adjoining land. Land that adjoins the home plot is land not completely separated from the home plot by land in which neither the individual nor his or her spouse has an ownership interest.

Easements and public rights of way (e.g., utility lines, roads, etc.) do not separate other land from the home plot.

b. Buildings

The home exclusion applies to all buildings on excluded land.

4. General rule for property that no longer serves as the principal place of residence

Property ceases to be the principal place of residence as of the date that the individual left it with no intention of returning. Such property, if not excluded under another provision, is included in determining countable resources as of the first moment of the first day of the following month.

5. Exceptions to the general rule for property that no longer serves as the principal place of residence

Even if the individual leaves the home with no intention of returning, the property remains an excluded resource for as long as:

  1. a spouse or dependent relative of the individual continues to live there while the individual is institutionalized; or

  2. its sale would cause undue hardship, due to loss of housing for a co-owner of the property; or

  3. an individual leaves his or her home due to domestic abuse and has not:

    • Established a new principal place of residence (for the definition of principal place of residence, see SI 01130.100A.2.); or

    • Taken action to render the home no longer excludable.

EXAMPLE: Due to domestic abuse, on February 9 a recipient leaves the home in which she lived and has shared ownership and moves into her mother’s home. She does not intend to return to the home. The recipient submits evidence of domestic abuse to the field office (FO). On October 20, the recipient “closes” on a second home (i.e. a sale is completed and the property is officially transferred into her name). Despite her absence and continued ownership interest in the first home, the first home is an excluded resource through October.

The FO must determine whether the first home is a resource effective November 1 (e.g. whether the recipient has the legal authority to sell without consent of a co-owner and whether a co-owner consents or refuses to sell). If the FO determines the first home is a resource, it is a countable resource, unless excluded under another provision (e.g. undue hardship), effective November 1 because the recipient established a new principal place of residence. The second home meets the definition of a “home" and thus is an excluded resource.

EXAMPLE: Due to domestic abuse, on January 24 a recipient leaves the home in which he lived and has shared ownership. He does not intend to return to the home. The recipient submits evidence of domestic abuse to the FO. On February 5, the recipient's wife also vacates the home because she is not financially able to maintain the household expenses. Instead of returning to the home, the recipient develops a rental agreement and rents out the home to a couple effective February 15. Despite his absence and continued ownership interest in the home, the home is an excluded resource through February.

The FO must determine whether the home is a resource effective March 1 (e.g., whether the recipient has the legal authority to sell without consent of a co-owner and whether a co-owner consents or refuses to sell). If the FO determines the home is a resource, it is a countable resource effective March 1, unless excluded under another provision (e.g. undue hardship), because the recipient’s action (i.e. to rent the residence) renders the home no longer excludable.

For information on the different types of shared ownership, see SI 01110.510. For information on assets that are not resources, see SI 01110.115.

C. Procedure for initial claims

1. How to develop an ownership interest using an individual's allegation

Accept an individual's allegation of home ownership unless the file raises a question about it (e.g., a life estate is involved or an individual is under age 18 and lives with someone other than a parent). Record the allegation on a statement either signed by the individual or on the applicable MSSICS screen or page (e.g. Report of Contact screen (DROC), Home Ownership Data screen (LOWN), Owned/Rental Data screen (LORD), or Real Property page (REAL)).

If there is reason to question the individual's allegation, request that the individual submit one of the items of evidence listed in SI 01130.100C.2.

2. How to develop an ownership interest using evidence

If you are unable to accept an individual’s allegation of home ownership, request the following types of evidence.

a. Evidence of real property ownership

  • tax assessment notice;

  • recent tax bill;

  • current mortgage statement;

  • deed;

  • report of title search;

  • evidence of heirship in an unprobated estate (e.g., receipt of income from the property, a will, or evidence of relationship recognizable under State intestate distribution laws in cases where the home is unprobated property).

b. Evidence of personal property ownership (e.g., a mobile home)

  • title;

  • current registration.

c. Evidence of life estate or similar property rights

  • deed;

  • will;

  • other legal document.

3. How to document an ownership interest

Fax any paper documentation to the electronic folder (EF) or the Non-disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDReD). For information on the retention of paper material after faxing into either the EF or NDReD, see GN 00301.322.

4. How to develop equitable ownership

If an individual alleges equitable ownership (e.g., an unwritten ownership interest or right of use for life), follow applicable regional instructions. In the absence of regional instructions, obtain any pertinent documents and a statement either signed or recorded on a DROC screen from each of the parties involved regarding any arrangement that has been agreed to. Forward the case to the Assistant Regional Commissioner, Management and Operations Support (ARC MOS), for an opinion from the Regional Counsel.

5. How to develop the principal place of residence

a. Individual owns one residence

Absent ownership in more than one residence or evidence that raises a question about the matter, assume that the alleged home is the individual's principal place of residence.

b. Individual owns more than one residence

If an individual alleges or other evidence indicates ownership of more than one residence, obtain his or her statement either signed or recorded on a DROC screen concerning such points as:

  • how much time is spent at each residence;

  • where he or she is registered to vote;

  • which address he or she uses as a mailing address or for tax purposes.

Determine the principal place of residence accordingly and document the determination in file.

6. How to develop nonadjoining property

a. Individual agrees with evidence of nonadjoining property

If evidence indicates that land the individual owns does not adjoin the home plot, and the individual agrees that it does not:

  • obtain his or her statement either signed or recorded on a DROC screen to that effect; and

  • develop the nonadjoining portion per SI 01140.100 (Non-home Real Property) or SI 01130.500 (Property Essential to Self- Support - Overview), as applicable.

b. Individual disagrees with evidence of nonadjoining property

If the individual maintains that all the land adjoins the home plot, document the file with:

  • a sketch of the land showing the boundaries of the various plots and the location of the shelter used as the home; and

  • evidence of how the land is treated for tax assessment purposes.

The sketch may be by the individual (on form SSA-795 Statement of Claimant or Other Person), from public records, or by FO staff from direct observation.

The tax assessment information may be in the form of a tax assessment notice or obtained from the appropriate tax jurisdiction and recorded on form SSA-5002 Report of Contact or the DROC screen.

Fax any paper documentation to the electronic folder (EF) or the Non-disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDReD). For information on the retention of paper material after faxing into either the EF or NDReD, see GN 00301.322.

c. Combined or single holding for tax assessment

Assume that the land is a single piece of property in which all the land adjoins the home plot if:

  • it is recorded and treated as a single holding for tax assessment purposes; or

  • the original holding has been subdivided, but still is treated as a single holding for tax assessment purposes.

d. More than single holding for tax assessment

If the land is recorded and treated as two or more holdings for tax assessment purposes, use the sketch to determine whether other holdings adjoin the home plot.

7. How to develop absences from the home

a. Summary of development

  1. If the individual is in an institution, determine whether a spouse or dependent relative is living in the home (see SI 01130.100C.7.b.).

  2. If no spouse or dependent relative is living in the home, or if the absence is for a reason other than institutionalization, determine:

    • whether the individual intends to return to the home (see SI 01130.100C.7.c.); and

    • if not, whether the sale of the home would cause undue hardship, due to loss of housing to a co-owner (see SI 01130.130).

    NOTE:  If a previously undeveloped absence from the home has ended, assume that the individual always intended to return. The absence, regardless of duration, will not affect the home exclusion.

  3. If the individual has left his or her home due to domestic abuse, determine whether the individual has established a new principal place of residence or otherwise has taken action rendering the home no longer excludable.

b. Spouse or dependent relative development

Obtain the individual’s statement either signed or recorded on the DROC screen as to:

  • whether anyone is living in the home while the individual is in the institution;

  • if so, how that person is related to the individual, if at all; and

  • if related (except for the individual's spouse), how that person is dependent on the individual, if at all.

Absent evidence to the contrary, accept the allegations.

c. “Intent to return” development

If the individual has left his or her home but intends to return to it, see SI 01130.100E. for the necessary development.

NOTE: “Intent to return” development applies only to the continued exclusion of property which met the definition of the individual's home prior to the time the individual left the property. For the definition of “home,” see SI 01130.100A.1.

d. Domestic abuse development

If the individual has left his or her home due to domestic abuse, see SI 01130.100F. for the necessary development.

D. Procedure for posteligibility development

If, after SSI eligibility is established, an individual receives real property (e.g. as an inheritance or gift) which may be excludable as his or her home, apply the policy and procedures in SI 01130.100B. and SI 01130.100C. to determine whether the home exclusion applies.

Redevelop the exclusion from resources of an individual's home only if something raises a question about the correctness of the original determination or indicates that the exclusion may no longer apply (e.g., change of address).

If the individual has left his or her home but intends to return to it, see SI 01130.100E.

E. Procedure for “intent to return” development

1. Obtain statement

Obtain the individual’s statement either signed or recorded on the DROC screen as to:

  • when and why he or she left the home;

  • whether he or she intends to return; and

  • if he or she does not intend to return, when that decision was made.

If the individual has a representative payee, obtain the “intent” statement from the payee either signed or recorded on the DROC screen.

This statement governs the “intent to return” determination unless the statement is self- contradictory (see SI 01130.100E.2. through SI 01130.100E.3.).

2. Self - contradictory statement

Consider a statement to be self-contradictory if it contains conflicting or unclear expressions of intent.

Examples of self-contradictory statements:

“Sometimes I want to go home and sometimes I don't.”

“I intend to go home but I also want to stay here.”

“Yes, I want to go home, but I really don't know if I should.”

3. Factors not to consider

Do not consider other factors, such as the individual's age, physical condition, or other circumstances when determining intent to return home. Assuming the individual is mentally competent, age, mental capacity, and physical condition are not factors in evaluating the individual's statement of intent.

EXAMPLE:   The recipient is 93 years old and in the intensive care unit of a hospital. She tells the field representative that her doctor believes she may not be able to leave the hospital and return home. However, she states that she intends to return to her former residence as soon as she is well enough to leave the hospital. Based on her statement, “intent to return home” is established.

EXAMPLE:   The recipient's home was partially destroyed by fire. He does not know when the necessary repairs will be completed. In the meantime, he is living with his sister. He states that he intends to return to the former residence as soon as possible. Based on his statement, “intent to return home” is established.

4. Obtaining more information if needed

If the individual's statement of intent is self-contradictory, contact someone who knows the situation, such as a physician, family member, or close friend or relative, to clarify the situation.

F. Procedure for domestic abuse development

Obtain evidence related to the individual’s allegation of domestic abuse. Evidence may include but is not limited to:

  • Evidence that indicates the individual sought safe haven in a shelter for abused persons;

  • Protection order issued against an alleged abuser;

  • Copy of verdict and judgment or sentence against the abuser for committing an act of violence against the individual; or

  • Reports or affidavits from police, medical personnel, clergy, abuse shelter case manager, social workers, counseling or mental health personnel, and other social services agency personnel.

Fax any paper documentation to the electronic folder (EF) or the Non-disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDReD). For information on the retention of paper material after faxing into either the EF or NDReD, see GN 00301.322.

The home becomes a countable resource effective the month following the month in which an individual establishes a new principal place of residence or otherwise takes action rendering the home no longer excludable, unless excluded under another provision.

If the alleged abuser is also the individual’s representative payee, follow the instructions in GN 00504.100 to initiate development for a new payee.

G. See details

SI 01110.115 - Assets That Are Not Resources

SI 01110.510 – Sole vs. Shared Ownership

SI 01130.110 - Home Replacement Funds

SI 01130.130 - Real Property Whose Sale Would Cause Undue Hardship, Due to Loss of Housing, to a Co-owner

SI 01130.140 - Real Property Following Reasonable but Unsuccessful Efforts to Sell It throughout a 9-Month Period of Conditional Benefits


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0501130100
SI 01130.100 - The Home Exclusion - 11/13/2013
Batch run: 11/13/2013
Rev:11/13/2013