Can My Boyfriend Live with Me If I Get Welfare?

Note: This article also applieds to girlfriends and wives.  The genders used in this web page are for convenience only.


Can my boyfriend or husband live with me if I receive welfare?

The Department of Social Services (DSS) cannot restrict who lives with you, but you have an obligation under the law to give them "complete and accurate" information about who lives with you and how you are related.

For example, if you are married and your husband lives with you, you must both apply for public assistance, and if either of you has income it will be counted against both of you.  The same is true for parents and children under age 21.  That is, if your boyfriend lives with you and you have children together, you are both legally responsible for the children.

Can my boyfriend's income be counted against me?

DSS cannot budget your boyfriend's income against you.  However, if you have children together, you may not be able to apply for yourself alone.  If your boyfriend is not the father of any of your children, his income cannot be counted against their public assistance or yours, unless he says is supporting them or you.

What if my boyfriend doesn't live with us, but the welfare office is going to close my case because they think he does?

This usually happens as the result of a home visit investigation.  DSShas the right to make an unscheduled home visit to anyone who receives public assistance  If you are not at home at the time of the unscheduled visit, the investigator will usually leave a card informing you of when he/she will return.  If you will not be available at the time they are returning, it is important that you call and reschedule the appointment.

What happens during the visit?

During the visit, the investigator will ask to look around your home.  He or she will be looking for evidence of who lives with you.  He may try to ask your landlord or neighbors questions, or anyone who happens to be visiting you at the time of the investigation.  Prior to the visit, the investigator usually has already checked if your boyfriend receives mail at your address, has a car registered at your address, or uses your address with his employer.  DSS may also have information they obtained from the Child Support Enforcement Unit.

The investigator will take special note of any items in your home that would most likely belong to someone you claim is not living there.

After the investigation, the investigator will turn in a report to your caseworker with a recommendation of what action should be taken based on his findings.  If you receive a notice to discontinue your benefits as the result of the investigation, you can request a fair hearing immediately, to preserve your benefits until a hearing is held and a decision is issued.

What can I do at my hearing to show my children's father does not live with us?

If your children's father is willing to cooperate, ask him to provide you with as many documents as possible that show where he actually lives, such as a lease or landlord statement, rent receipts, utility or other bills, driver's license, or statement from roommates, etc.

If he refuses to cooperate, try to get a statement from your landlord, or any other documents you can gather that show he does not live with you.

NOTE:  Welfare cannot restrict your children's father from visiting you or the children.  However, if he does not live with you, you can protect your benefits by NOT letting him use your address for any purpose, and NOT signing for any registered mail that is sent to him at your address.  It is also wise for him NOT to keep any personal belongings in your home.


* * * * *

(c) Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. ®

This article provides general information about this subject. Laws affecting this subject may have changed since this article was written. For specific legal advice about a problem you are having, get the advice of a lawyer.  Receiving this information does not make you a client of our office.

Additional information