It’s Time to Restore and Strengthen SSI

(May 2013)

Today, far too many older adults and persons with disabilities who now receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits struggle to make ends meet. While the program ensures that many elderly poor have some income, too many recipients are homeless or doing without basic necessities. And, far too many SSI recipients are deeper in poverty now than when the program started in 1972.

NSCLC has spent many years educating advocates and policymakers about concerns with the current program. A major takeaway is that inflation has eroded the value of parts of the program that haven’t changed in 40 years. However, NSCLC now believes that there is a real possibility that SSI can be restored so that it will once again, as President Nixon once said, “mean a big step out of poverty and toward a life of dignity and independence.”

The “Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Restoration Act” (H.R. 1601), has just been introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ). He announced its introduction April 17th at a NSCLC-sponsored Capitol Hill briefing about SSI.

If it becomes law, the bill (H.R. 1601) would make great strides in restoring the program. It would streamline and update rules governing how much in savings a recipient can have and do away with a requirement that penalizes recipients for receiving in-kind maintenance and support, even from a family member. Several national and local organizations have endorsed the legislation. The bill now needs House of Representatives cosponsors.

It is time for advocates for the elderly poor to pull together and help make this bill law. In the short term, contact your House member and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 1601. If you have a story about a client with SSI like that of Reneto Wilkins, please don’t hesitate to let us know.


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