Many affordable housing property managers have found that obtaining third-party verification for Social Security income has become even more challenging. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has stopped sending verification letters to third parties (i.e., property managers, onsite staff, management, etc.).
The potential residents and recipients of the award must provide documentation. It is important to note that bank statements are not sufficient since those reflect net and you must use gross income. The SSA office has issued the following guidance: “You can request a benefit verification letter online by using your ‘my Social Security account.’ This letter is sometimes called a ‘budget letter,’ a ‘benefits letter,’ a ‘proof of income letter,’ or a ‘proof of award letter.’”
• Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Check with your HFA to see if they will accept the current year award letters for regular Social Security and a current Proof of Income Letter (with 120-days) for SSI or current confirmation within 120 days.
• Unemployment and TANF: Benefit letters dated within 120-days of the effective date are required
• Pensions and Annuity Payments: a document from the entity providing the payment dated within 120-days of the effective date should be obtained.
• Unemployment Income: The document from the SSA must be within 120 days of the effective date. Unemployment not related to a seasonal job, must be annualized over 52 weeks no matter what timeframe is listed on the verification letter.
If the applicant/tenant has a seasonal job, recurring job, or a firm job offer, the unemployment should only be calculated for the period it will be received and documented on the verification letter.
With all Social Security income, COLA must be included in the benefit amount if it has been announced and is not already on the verification letter.
For example, an increase is announced on 10/1. Properties can use current rate from 10/1 until 12/31 and include the increase starting 1/1. If the increase is 1.6%, starting 1/1, let’s see how this will look in the file.
• 11/1 certification
• Household is currently getting $500/month in Social Security
• 11/1 – 12/31: $500 x 2 = $1000
• As of 1/1 it will be $500 x 1.6% = $8
o $500 + $8 = $508
• So, 1/1-10/31 = $508 x 10 = $5080
• SS income for the year is $1000 + $5080 = $6080
If you have any questions for the Social Security Administration, you can call the office at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the U.S.