Both the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program and the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program are programs that pay monthly benefits to people who are disabled and have met certain other eligibility criteria. In order to receive SSI you must be disabled and have limited income and resources. In order to receive SSDI, you must be disabled and have worked a certain length of time in qualifying jobs. For more information on the SSI and SSDI programs, see our section on eligibility for disability benefits.
The SSI and SSDI programs are not set up to help directly pay for expenses such as utilities. However, there is no reason why you can't use your SSI and SSDI payments to pay for things like rent and utilities. You don't have to use your monthly disability payments only for expenses related to your disability (like doctor's visits or prescription medication); you can use your payments to pay for whatever you need. The only exception to this rule is for lump-sum SSI back payments to children with disabilities; for more information, see our article on children's dedicated SSI accounts.
That said, since SSI eligibility is based partly on having limited income and resources, if you are receiving SSI, it is possible that you will also meet the limited income requirements for other federal, state or local assistance programs. Depending on the criteria for these programs, you may be eligible for things like Medicaid, Section 8 housing vouchers, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – formerly called "food stamps"). You should contact the agencies responsible for administering these programs in your area and see if you are eligible. Many local religious organization and nonprofit groups also provide rental assistance to disabled people.
For help with utility bills, the federal Administration for Chlidren and Families administers a low-income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP) through local offices to help pay for gas and electric utilities and heating and cooling costs . This program provides bill payment assistance and energy crisis aid to families in need. To apply for LIHEAP, go to LIHEAP.org to find contact information for the agency that administers LIHEAP in your area.
In addition, many companies such as utility companies and water companies will work with people who have limited income to lower their monthly costs or set up payment plans. You can contact these companies directly and explain your situation to see if your payments can be reduced.