NSCLC, Rep. Grijalva, and Advocates Call for Restoring SSI Program

Apr 17, 2013, 15:00 ET from National Senior Citizens Law Center

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At a Capitol Hill briefing, Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) announced that he is introducing a bill today that would restore some elements of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program to the same level as 41 years ago, something that the National Senior Citizens Law Center (NSCLC) has long championed.

SSI provides subsistence-level income to adults with very limited financial resources who are either over age 65 or cannot perform substantial work because of a severe disability.

The Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act, sponsored by Rep. Grijalva, strengthens SSI by updating the rules for eligibility and amount of benefits. Some processes have not been updated in since SSI was signed into law in 1972.

"Today, far too many older adults and persons with disabilities who now receive SSI struggle to make ends meet," said NSCLC Executive Director Paul Nathanson. "The bill will change rules that have made it difficult for them to survive."

Mainly because many aspects of the program have not kept up with inflation, older adults who rely on SSI for their income security are deeper in poverty than when the program started.

Currently, a rule that disregards the first $20 of monthly income when determining someone's eligibility hasn't changed in 40 years.  Someone receiving SSI cannot have more than $2,000 in resources or savings and some may be ineligible for benefits for up to three years because of a harsh transfer penalty. In addition, SSI benefits are reduced from their already meager level if someone receives in-kind support and maintenance such as food and/or housing, even from a family member.

The bill addresses these issues and others. It expands the resource limit to $10,000. It increases the general income disregard from $20 to $110, repeals the transfer penalty and also eliminates reductions in benefits for in-kind support and maintenance.

Statements of support, a bill summary, fact sheet and press releases from the briefing participants are available online at www.NSCLC.org.

The National Senior Citizens Law Center is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to protect the rights of low-income older adults. For more information, visit our Web site at www.NSCLC.org. Follow us on Twitter @NSCLC1.

SOURCE National Senior Citizens Law Center