Democrats want to reform this program to help poor older people and Americans with disabilities


Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat in Ohio and chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, will speak at a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat in Ohio and chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, will speak at a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat in Ohio and chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Commission, will speak at a Senate Banking Commission hearing on Thursday, July 15, 2021.Credits-Aldrago-Bloomberg / Getty Images

President Joe Biden Called Franklin Delano Roosevelt Several times as he has implemented thorough poverty alleviation to tackle record unemployment and economic turmoil. Biden has spent $ 1.9 trillion on stimulus checks so far, hoping to model his legacy to the president who helped the country get out of the Great Depression, Extended child tax credit, And among other remedies, enhanced unemployment insurance.

However, the Democratic Party has another lesser-known plan to improve the social safety net elements of the country that supports the poorest Americans: Increasing the profits of Supplementary Security Income (SSI).

“The disabled and the poorest haven’t really helped for years,” said Senator Sherrod Brown of the Democratic Party of Ohio. “They have just been forgotten and ignored. So it’s time for us to do something about it.”

The SSI is managed by the Social Security Administration along with retirement benefits and social security disability insurance and aims to help people with disabilities and older Americans in poverty. Brown and other powerful Democrats in Congress, Defenders of disability and agingWe want to increase SSI’s profits as part of a $ 3.5 trillion budget adjustment package that can take over the party’s policy over Republican opposition. If they succeed, this will be the biggest update to the benefits of SSI in decades. SSI is now 7.8 million An American has registered. Combined with Biden’s proposed social security reforms, strengthening the SSI will save 1.4 million people from poverty in 2021 alone. Urban Institute Analysis..

Brown’s plan costs money $ 46 billion Next year, the director of social security estimates that the pandemic changed the conversation about the role of government in American life and opened the door to many long-standing democratic priorities. “The pandemic was a big exposer. It revealed wealth inequality, racial injustice, and structural racism against those who didn’t pay attention,” says Brown. “It also showed that while so many people are suffering, the wealthy are becoming wealthy during the pandemic. Therefore, the logical steps that Congress should take are on these issues. It’s a big idea and we’re doing it. “

SSI strict rules

When Congress enacted the program in 1972, the SSI said it needed to ensure that the country’s “elderly, visually impaired and disabled people no longer have to live on incomes below poverty levels.” I did. However, its advantages have not kept pace with modern living standards.

The largest SSI benefit an individual will receive in 2021 $ 794 / month, Or $ 9,530.12 per year. This is less than 75% of the federal poverty line. It’s even more miserable for couples. If you receive an SSI and are married to another SSI beneficiary, you will not get the full benefit of each. Instead, you share a profit of $ 14,293.61. This is only 50% more than if you were single. This means that retired couples in their 80s, or young couples with disabilities, may have a financial advantage to divorce rather than stay married.

SSI aims to serve only the poorest Americans. However, as living expenses have increased dramatically since the 1970s, SSI rules have not kept pace with inflation, and people who meet the program’s wealth and income limits have lost purchasing power over time.

Recipients of SSI must have personal wealth of less than $ 2,000 or couples of less than $ 3,000. This number has not been updated since 1989. This disqualifies rainy day savings and even small retirement funds. Income is also limited. SSI participants may not earn more than $ 65 of working income and $ 20 of unearned income each month. This is the same amount that was allowed when the program was launched nearly 50 years ago. After those cut-offs, their profits fall for all dollars above their threshold. Checks can also be reduced if you receive a “in-kind supply” such as receiving a grocery bag from a friend or staying at a family home for free.

These rules are not only strict for recipients, but also burdensome for the Social Security Administration (SSA), which has already been applied. Tension under the current workloadSays Stacy Croyd, Director of Policy and Administrative Advocacy for the National Organization of Social Security Claimants. For example, if an SSI beneficiary wins $ 25 from the lottery, he should report it to the SSA and see that the profit is reduced by $ 5. “SSA needs to process that report, change those benefits and bring it back to the next month, and that takes a lot of time,” says Cloyd.

This emphasizes the system that is already struggling with the long waiting times of people applying for SSI benefits in the first place. The application process is very complex, requires a significant amount of paperwork, and often receives multiple appeals before someone receives the benefit. SSA Funds have decreased Since the beginning of the pandemic in recent years, its workload has increased, offices have been closed for face-to-face assistance, and applicants can seek help by phone or online.

“Decades of parliamentary negligence have seriously affected disabled and older people when SSI (an important program to protect people from poverty) is to give life to disabled and older people. It means that you will fall into lasting poverty, “says Rebecca. Valas, a Senior Fellow of the Century Foundation, plans to review the program in collaboration with Congressional Democrats. “This pandemic-like moment can emerge as an opportunity for a paradigm shift.”

Opportunity for reform

In the spring of 2020, Biden vowed to expand the benefits of SSI as part of the presidential election. Disability Policy Platform.. Democrats in Congress want the president to obey his promise. April, Brown and freshman Democrat Jamaal Bowman Guided the letter Eighteen senators and 33 senators urged Biden to prioritize the issue.

Their plans are to raise SSI benefits to the poverty line, raise asset limits to $ 10,000 for individuals and $ 20,000 for couples, update income rules, and penalize people for marriage penalties and “in-kind” support. Eliminate the rules that impose.

However, due to cost concerns, SSI reforms are unlikely to be included in the bipartisan package, and conservatives have criticized plans to drive many of the Democratic major changes through the budget adjustment process without Republican support. I will. “I don’t think it’s appealing in the context of throwing it into a fully partisan reconciliation package,” says Rachel Gresler, a researcher at the Conservative Heritage Foundation. Parliamentarians may be able to come up with a bipartisan agreement to reform SSI, she says, but “not just something that will provide a total increase in the level of profits.” (Gresler and the Heritage Foundation Insist The need for SSI will diminish as social security retirement benefits are privatized and more focused on low-income earners. )

Still, there is increasing support for increasing monthly SSI benefits.The proposed changes Extremely popular with the general publicAs with stimulus checks and child tax credits, even among Republicans.powerful Outside the group AFL-CIO, United Auto Workers (UAW), AARP, Consortium for citizens with disabilities.. And Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is participating in Brown’s plan, along with Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Vermont Senate Budget Committee.

Mr Brown said he was “optimistic” in discussing how the SSI change would work with Senate leader Chuck Schumer and other negotiators, saying that at least some could be included in the settlement bill. I am. His optimism comes from experience. He worked with Congressman Rosa DeLauro on a year-long expanded child tax credit before the idea came to fruition this year. “With the child tax credit, I first moved to this in 2013 when Rosa DeLauro and I were the only ones promoting it. And we [former President Barack] Mr. Obama participated, and the majority of Democrats, almost all Democrats, participated, “says Brown. “Staff can take some time, but this is our chance now.”