WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) today joined forces with Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to introduce The Supplemental Security Restoration Act of 2015.
The legislation will restore the original intent of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which was to supplement incomes of vulnerable seniors and people with severe disabilities enough to protect them from the harms of poverty. The current SSI program is painfully outdated, with many funding and benefits formulas still in place from when President Nixon signed the law in 1972. As a result, many individuals that need assistance are unable to get it, and many that do receive assistance still live below the poverty level, unable to afford adequate food or housing. The outdated benefits formulas penalize program participants for working, for saving money and for receiving assistance from family members.
With inadequate financial support and provisions preventing participants from receiving income elsewhere, SSI is locking many of the 8.4 million Americans enrolled in it into the very life of poverty it was intended to prevent. The Supplemental Security Restoration Act of 2015 makes modest improvements to the program by raising the asset limit, updating earned and unearned income disregard rules, and modernizing certain financial eligibility rules.
“SSI’s 1972-era solutions for modern-day challenges are painfully inadequate for the elderly and disabled Americans who rely on it,” said Rep. Grijalva. “Our cost of living has increased more than five-fold since then, yet SSI’s financial support remains frozen in time. What’s worse, its requirements are increasingly restrictive as it falls further out of pace with our society. Many recipients are now subjected to the very life of poverty it was intended to prevent. While others with the slightest assistance from Social Security or a caring relative are penalized or even blocked from the program entirely. It’s time to ensure this lifeline lives up to its original intent, and provides assistance designed to meet 21st century needs.”
The Supplemental Security Restoration Act of 2015 has 25 co-sponsors in Congress and the endorsement of 70 national organizations. Rep. Grijalva is a prominent voice in the effort to update SSI, and previously introduced similar legislation in the 113th Congress.