Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the federal program that provides a minimum level of income to impoverished people with severe disabilities and older adults, is in dire need of reform. Due to out-of-date benefits and caps on earned income and assets, SSI is trapping people in poverty -- providing financial assistance that is now 26 percent below the federal poverty level. Currently, 10 million children, adults with disabilities and older adults receive sub-poverty income assistance from SSI to meet their basic needs. The SSI program needs to be updated, and the SSI Restoration Act will lift more than 3 million vulnerable Americans out of poverty by increasing SSI benefits to match the federal poverty level and modernizing caps on earned income and assets that have not been updated since the 1980s.
Urge your Members of Congress to advance the economic security of people with disabilities and support the SSI Restoration Act.
10 million children and adults with severe disabilities and older adults receive sub-poverty income assistance from SSI to meet their basic needs; 6 million depend solely on SSI. Important to the Jewish community, one-third of Holocaust survivors live in poverty, and many depend on SSI. In addition, people with disabilities are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as people without disabilities.
Congress last updated SSI benefits and eligibility caps on earned income and assets decades ago. As a result, millions of people with severe disabilities and older adults are trapped in poverty and living on SSI benefits that are set well below the federal poverty level.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Restoration Act of 2021 (S. 2065/H.R. 3824 in the 117th Congress) would increase SSI benefits and caps on income and assets to reflect the current cost of living while empowering SSI beneficiaries to work as they are able and marry whom they choose without risking major reductions in their benefits or disqualification. SSI rules also penalize SSI beneficiaries who choose to marry each other, reducing their already meager benefit by 25 percent, and beneficiaries who choose to work. If they earn more than $85/month, they risk having their benefits reduced or losing both their SSI and Medicaid benefits altogether.
The SSI Restoration Act will lift more than 3 million vulnerable Americans out of poverty by increasing SSI benefits to match the federal poverty level and modernizing caps on earned income and assets that have not been updated since the 1980s. This vital legislation also will eliminate the rules that discourage SSI beneficiaries from working and marrying and simplify the program. Removing these barriers will allow SSI beneficiaries the dignity and purpose that comes from working and saving for their needs as they are able, while empowering them to marry, actions the rest of us take for granted.
Jewish tradition teaches about the importance of creating a world that is accessible for all people. Leviticus says, “You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind” (Leviticus 19:14). We must work to ensure that there are no barriers to inclusion and access for all members of our community. Our commitment to accessibility includes ensuring that people with disabilities, regardless of age, are not forced into poverty due to the high cost of medical devices or other disability-related expenses.
Urge your Members of Congress to co-sponsor the SSI Restoration Act when it is reintroduced in the 118th Congress!
For more information, contact our disability rights Legislative Assistant, Lillie Heyman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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