Senate Bill Updates SSI And Would Help Elderly Poor

Mar 07, 2014, 15:00 ET from National Senior Citizens Law Center

WASHINGTON, March 7, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2014 was introduced today in the U.S. Senate by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The bill, championed by the National Senior Citizens Law Center (NSCLC), would fix key elements of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program that currently make life difficult for millions of low-income older adults.

The legislation would update rules such as one that recognizes the value of past work by disregarding the first $20 of Social Security Retirement or other monthly income when determining SSI eligibility, a rule that hasn't been updated in more than 40 years.  The SSI Restoration Act will increase the disregard to $110 to account for inflation.  The bill also increases the amount of resources an SSI recipient can retain from $2,000 to $10,000 so that they can respond to emergencies such as a home repair or the replacement of an old car.

"We hear many stories from consumer advocates about elderly SSI recipients who cannot pay for food, or needed medical care because they exceeded the resource limit or received too much support from a family member and lost part or all of their benefits," said NSCLC Executive Director Kevin Prindiville.  "Sadly, some poor seniors face homelessness when they lose even some of the already meager income SSI provides."

An identical bill, H.R. 1601, was introduced in the House last April by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and has 13 co-sponsors. The House bill has been endorsed by 50 national and local organizations, including NSCLC.

SSI provides subsistence-level income to two million older adults with very limited financial resources who are either age 65 or over or cannot perform substantial work because of a severe disability. More than two thirds of older adults receiving SSI payments are women and one out of every three applying for the program has a primary language other than English.

"We hope that many others in the Senate will join Sens. Brown and Warren as co-sponsors to help make these needed changes into law this year," Prindiville said.

The National Senior Citizens Law Center is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to protect the rights of low-income older adults. Through advocacy, litigation, and the education of local advocates, we seek to ensure the health and economic security of those with limited income and resources, and to preserve their access to the courts. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @NSCLC1.

SOURCE National Senior Citizens Law Center