In this article, we will answer the following question: Can I live in a caravan and claim benefits? We will discuss what are the eligibility criteria for benefits in the US and a few possibilities to claim back tax and save money while travelling or living in a motorhome.
Can I live in a caravan and claim benefits?
In the US, it is possible to live in a caravan and claim benefits, but it is not exactly a piece of cake. The two most common benefits that caravan and RV owners can claim are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Medicaid.
Both benefits are means-tested, which means that in order to qualify, you must meet the requirements for very strict income and asset limits. Owning an RV or caravan is not exactly cheap, thus you will most likely not qualify for the $2000 SSI benefits.
Here are the eligibility criteria for claiming benefits:
- Income: The Social Security Administration (SSA) representatives use a formula to calculate whether your income may disqualify you to receive SSI.
- Resources: You are eligible for SSI if your personal resources are worth $ 2,000 or less.
- Status of your disability: SSA will determine if you meet the disability requirements. SSA is primarily interested in determining how your disability may affect your ability to work when you are of legal age (over 18 years of age).
- Residence: Must live in the United States.
- Citizenship: You must be a citizen of the United States or a national. Some non-citizens can also be considered.
If you own an RV and plan to claim benefits, perhaps the only solution is to have the motorhome registered to another person’s (or organisation) name. If the caravan is funded in another’s name, it means that it is not your property and you will be able to claim benefits while living in a motorhome.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will need documents that verify your income and other resources.
If you are applying for a child under the age of 18, you will need to complete the Application for Supplemental Security Income as well as a Child Disability Report. If your child already receives SSI, when he is about to turn 18, he will have to go through the Redetermination process at age 18 to determine if she will continue to receive benefits when he is of age.
Keep in mind:
- SSI benefits are closely related to your personal and housing situation, or to the finances of your family group. Beneficiaries should keep Social Security informed of any changes in those circumstances, from a new job or salary increase to a relative moving in and contributing to household expenses.
- Blind or disabled children may be eligible for SSI, depending on their situation and the financial condition of the family.
- SSI differs from Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI. Eligibility for SSDI is determined by your disability and how long you have worked and paid Social Security taxes. It is possible to receive benefits from both programs.
Can you claim back tax if you live in a caravan?
Yes, you can claim back tax and apply for RV tax deductions if you live in a camper, caravan, RV or any other type of motorhome.
Here are some ideas:
- If the motorhome is registered as your second home, apply for a home mortgage interest deduction (your bank will be able to advise you on the terms and conditions);
- Claim back any expenses and millages while travelling with your motorhome for a business trip;
- If you rent your caravan or RV, deduct any expenses related to the maintenance, repairs, furniture buying and other expenses.
- You can also apply for an RV sales deduction tax if you purchased your motorhome with cash and you don’t pay interest on a loan.
We recommend you consult a financial advisor before making any claims but do take into consideration the above schemes.
How to save money while living in a caravan or RV
Not everyone will be able to claim benefits or tax back while living in a motorhome. This is why we decided to give you a few tips on saving money while travelling or living in an RV full-time.
Of course, these tips are not going to magically make you travel and live for free, but each cent adds to the savings, and that is always something to keep in mind.
- Drive efficiently: plan your routes through applications or travel guides, selecting roads in good condition, free, or at least cheap. Try to maintain a constant speed, avoiding both braking and acceleration, avoiding revving the engine and using low gears only when essential.
- When refuelling at gas stations, try to have their cards available to accumulate discounts, as well as check the cheapest ones on the Internet. Try to load the water in the caravan for free on the way that you take advantage of to refuel gasoline.
- Assess whether it pays to eat out or prepare your own food. The normal thing is to prepare at least one of the two main meals of the day in your motorhome, trying to save and avoid consuming products that are too expensive. Of course, it is also advisable to bring breakfast and a snack on board, and a midnight snack too!
- The more of you in the caravan, the more savings. It is the reason why many families join the world of caravanning because on [hotel + plane + eating out] vacations prices skyrocket. It is also a good idea to get together a group of friends (yes, peaceful and trustworthy, which after all is many hours together) and go on a trip in a caravan/motorhome sharing the expenses.
- Avoid camping whenever possible, spending the night in dream landscapes, in areas for motorhomes or, failing that, in service stations.
- If your getaway is short, take homemade food in both the fridge and freezer.
- Bring a bicycle in the caravan (if possible), it can save you a few litres of gasoline.
- Check the vehicle well before leaving: in the case of the caravan, both the car and the caravan, it can save you a few hundred euros later (check the battery, filters, tire pressure, the system of escape, levels…).
- Travel either at the beginning of the end of the day in summer and in the noon hours of the day in winter, always avoiding turning on both heating and air conditioning at high power and keeping the windows up to save gasoline.
- Study which supermarkets are the cheapest, and if you have a membership card from them, you can save a few dollars thanks to discounts and offers.
- When you intend to buy something, always research and compare!
The bottom line
To know for sure if you qualify for benefits while living in a caravan, it is best to contact a local representative of the Social Services in your state. Each case is unique, thus it is best to get the opinion of a specialist on this one.
If we can be of any help, please let us know.
FAQ on Can I live in a caravan and claim benefits?
What benefits can I claim living on my own?
If you are living on your own you can claim Medicaid, SSI, state pension or bereavement allowance. It is best to contact a local representative of the Social Services in your state to see for which benefit you qualify.
Can I live in a caravan on my land?
You can live in a caravan on your land, but there are a few rules to follow. Caravans and motorhomes can remain on the grounds of a primary residence, but only between uses. They must in no case lose their mobile nature, otherwise, they will be considered as a fixed installation by the municipality.
Can I put a caravan in my garden?
You can install your caravan in your garden without authorization if you are not using it as a home or as an annexe to your home. The caravan must permanently retain its means of mobility (wheels, drawbar, etc.) in order to be able to leave its location at any time.
Can I put a trailer on my land?
To put a trailer on one’s land, the owner of a trailer must have the mayor’s parking authorization to install his trailer on his land. If the trailer is fixed, a building permit is required.