In-kind support and maintenance (also known as ISM) is unearned income attributable to an SSI eligible individual in the form of food or shelter that is given to the individual or received because someone else pays for it. In-kind support may be provided by someone who lives in the same household as the recipient (such as a parent), or by someone outside of the household.
In-kind support and maintenance matters in the SSI program because SSI is intended to help pay for the basic costs of food and shelter. If someone else is helping to pay for these things, then it stands to reason that the SSI would be reduced. If too much ISM is received and other forms of income are in evidence, it may even cause a person to be found ineligible for SSI benefits. For people who are found eligible for SSI, in-kind support and maintenance can cause the benefit payment to be reduced. In-kind support and maintenance may be charged to an SSI eligible individual or an SSI eligible couple.