In 2013, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) introduced the “Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2013, H.R. 1601, which would provide much needed updates to the SSI program including:
- Increase the SSI resource limit from $2,000 for individuals ($3,000 for a couple) to $10,000 ($15,000 for an eligible couple);
- Increase the general income disregard from $20 to $110 per month;
- Increase the earned income disregard from $65 to $357 per month;
- Repeal the in-kind support and maintenance provision; and
- Repeal the transfer of assets penalty.
Additional information about the need for this legislation to update the SSI program is available on the National Senior Citizens Law Center website, http://www.nsclc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/SSIPolicyBriefFixes2013.pdf. A policy brief for the bill describes the reasons why the updates are important:
- The resource limit has only increased by one third in 41 years, while the cost of living is more than five and one-half times what it was the year SSI began in 1972. Limited to $2,000, an SSI beneficiary cannot save enough to pay for predictable needs, let alone deal with sudden unforeseen emergencies.
- The rule that disregards the first $20 of monthly income (the general income disregard) has not changed in 40 years.
- The In-Kind Support and Maintenance (ISM) rule reduces benefits by one-third if the SSI beneficiary is living in the household of another person and receives in-kind support. The rule is complex and imposes an increased financial burden on SSI beneficiaries and their families as well as an administrative burden on already stressed local SSA offices.
- In 1999, Congress enacted a harsh transfer of assets penalty, which results in a period of ineligibility when someone transfers a resource to another person. This penalty applies even if the SSI recipient is repaying an informal loan from family or a friend. It also has a complex set of exceptions which add to the administrative burden and make errors inevitable.
This information is courtesy of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives.