Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva introduced the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Restoration Act earlier today – the bill will be given a number tomorrow – to restore adequate SSI benefits to the approximately 8 million Americans who currently receive them. Problems with processing and outdated benefits formulas have meant reduced or lost benefits for too many recipients, and Grijalva’s bill ensures that adequate benefits will be received on time.
Among other features, the bill includes the following. Learn more about the program and its terminology at http://www.ssa.gov/ssi/. In general, when an SSI beneficiary goes to work, the Social Security Administrationwill decrease the SSI cash benefit as earnings go up. This means beneficiaries often have no incentive to find a job. Rep. Grijalva’s bill seeks to remedy this by allowing beneficiaries to earn and keep more money.
UPDATE IN GENERAL INCOME EXCLUSION – Increases the SSI General Income Disregard from the current $20 to $110 per month. The general income disregard was established to reward work, by providing a $20 boost to those who worked long enough to qualify for Social Security or other retirement benefit. Today, $20 is the equivalent of less than $4 in 1972 when SSI was established.
UPDATE IN EARNED INCOME EXCLUSION – Increases the SSI Earned Income Disregard from the current $65 to $357 per month. The income disregard was intended to encourage those who could to return to the work force. It has not been changed since 1972. Today, $357 is equivalent to less than $65 in 1972 dollars. The exclusion is so low that its work incentive has been greatly diminished.
UPDATE IN RESOURCE LIMIT FOR INDIVIDUALS AND COUPLES – Increases the resource limit from $2,000 ($3,000 for an eligible couple) to $10,000 ($15,000 for an eligible couple). The resource limit has increased only 33 percent since 1972 and today it is woefully insufficient to deal with perfectly predictable needs.
SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE FURNISHED IN KIND NOT INCLUDED IN AS INCOME – Under current law, there can be a reduction in monthly benefits if an SSI recipient receives in-kind food and/or shelter. This makes it difficult for a family member to provide shelter. In addition the in-kind support and maintenance provision also places a significant administrative burden on the Social Security Administration at a time when their administrative resources are cut to the bone.
REPEAL OF PENALTY FOR DISPOSAL OF RESOURCES FOR LESS THAN FAIR MARKET VALUE – Repeals penalty enacted in 1999 for the transfer of a resource for less than fair market value within 36 months of applying for SSI or while receiving SSI. This policy is based on the assumption that people will give away valuable property for the opportunity to live on a subsistence income
Supporters of the bill introduced today spoke out in favor at a briefing on Capitol Hill earlier this afternoon. You can watch highlights of that event, including Rep. Grijalva’s remarks, at http://bit.ly/XRSTf8.
Max Richtman, President and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare: “The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare applauds Representative Raúl M. Grijalva for introducing the ‘Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Restoration Act.’ Representative Grijalva’s bill would do something Congress has failed to do for over 40 years, and that’s keeping the SSI program vital and up-to-date for our nation’s most vulnerable seniors who depend on SSI to meet their needs. The SSI Restoration Act performs an important service in strengthening SSI today and for the future.”
Zoe Paolantonio, Staff Attorney, Whitman-Walker Health Legal Services Program: “The monthly SSI payment is only $710 per month. SSI recipients must be permitted to save a reasonable amount of money for an unexpected expense—a break-in, a hospital bill, an especially cold winter and spring. A more realistic asset limit will give SSI recipients a greater opportunity to take care of themselves without living in fear of unexpected emergencies.”
Paul Nathanson, Executive Director, National Senior Citizens Legal Center: “Today, far too many older adults and persons with disabilities who now receive SSI struggle to make ends meet. The bill will change rules that have made it difficult for them to survive. This legislation is a giant step forward. We hope that many others in the House will join Rep. Grijalva as co-sponsors and help make these changes law.”