Washington DC- U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced today that he has cosponsored legislation that would update eligibility requirements for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI provides benefits to roughly 8.4 million citizens, including elderly Americans, Americans with disabilities, blind Americans, and 1.3 million children. The legislation, introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), could impact hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians. In 2013, 378,937 vulnerable Pennsylvanians received SSI benefits totaling $2,383,182 million. Senator Casey was an original cosponsor of the legislation along with Senators Whitehouse (D-RI) and Hirono (D-HI)
“This legislation would make commonsense improvements to the SSI program that aids vulnerable Pennsylvanians,” Senator Casey said. “Eligibility requirements haven’t kept up with inflation and in some cases may discourage some from working. Our policies should provide appropriate assistance to these vulnerable Pennsylvanians while encouraging work. This legislation takes SSI in that direction.”
Administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), SSI provides basic monthly income for older adults and people with disabilities who have limited or no other income or resources. The program is meant to lift up these Americans, but the amount a person is allowed to earn under the program leaves many recipients to live in poverty. For approximately 60 percent of recipients, SSI is their only source of income. The maximum SSI benefit is little more than $700 a month. While the amount of allowable income and resources has risen over the years, the last increase was 26 years ago in 1989. Further, a provision enacted in 1999 disallows SSI beneficiaries from receiving financial, food, and housing support from friends and family, or risk losing their benefits. In order to pull millions out of poverty and encourage work, Brown and Warren introduced the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act, which would increase allowable income and resource levels to their intended values and index them to inflation.
The Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act would:
- Update and index to inflation the amount of “earned income” a person can make to $364 per month (earned income is money received through work);
- Update and index to inflation the amount of “general income” a person can make to $112 per month (general income is money received through means other than work);
- Update and index to inflation the amount of “resources” a person or an eligible couple can have to $10,000 and $15,000, respectively (resources are cash or anything considered a liquid asset); and
- Repeal the provision – and its subsequent penalty – disallowing financial, food, and housing support from friends and family.