Supplemental Security Income (SSI) was established in 1974 as a lifeline for children, elderly, blind, and disabled Americans in need of assistance. However, for more than 30 years, no progressive changes have been made to the asset or income limits to be eligible for the program, which is a safety net for millions. These guidelines have historically been a hindrance to its beneficiaries’ financial freedom.
Unfortunately, the guidelines also prevent those in need, from being eligible to receive benefits. For those currently receiving benefits, not adhering to rigid guidelines puts them at risk of losing their benefits and healthcare.
Currently, an individual can receive up to $794 a month in benefits, while eligible couples can receive $1,191 a month. The average monthly benefit is only $585 for individuals, which falls below the federal poverty level.
In terms of assets, an individual can only have $2,000 in resources or $3,000 as a couple to be eligible. Assets can include items such as cash, bank accounts, stocks and additional vehicles. In addition, other financial assistance, including help from families such as food or shelter, is considered as income, and can make an applicant ineligible for benefits.
Now, the SSI Restoration Act aims to bring dignity back to those who are disabled and out of work and have no choice but to rely on federal aid. The proposed changes aim to bring 3.3 million people out of poverty and reduce the rate of poverty among those receiving SSI by more than 50%.
If you are disabled and plan to apply for SSI or are already collecting, here is what you need to know about the much-anticipated changes to the program.
Supplemental Security Income Proposed Updates
The SSI Restoration Act is being proposed by senators to fight poverty. Senators who support the bill hope that the SSI Restoration Act will be considered to be included in the Build Back Better reconciliation bill. If passed, much needed changes to SSI benefits may be made in Washington.
Not only would this proposal increase monthly benefits for existing beneficiaries, but it’ll make it possible for more people to access SSI for their needs with more exceptions. This includes married couples, those working with an existing earning capacity, and those receiving help and gifts from friends and family, who would have all seen a reduction or denial of SSI benefits otherwise.
What Would the SSI Restoration Act Do?
According to the proposal, the SSI Restoration Act would:
- Raise SSI’s sub-poverty-level monthly benefits, currently $794 per month, to 100% of the federal poverty level–a 31% increase–and index them to inflation
- Update and index the assets individuals or couples may have up to $10,000 and $20,000, respectively. The current limit of $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple has not been updated since 1989
- Update and index SSI’s income rules — which have never been updated since the program was signed into law in 1972. These reforms will allow individuals to earn up to $399 a month from work, and up to $123 a month in assistance from other sources: including Social Security, veterans’ benefits, and pension payments without being subject to a benefit reduction
- Reward, not penalize, SSI recipients who want to earn additional income to provide for themselves and their families
- Eliminate the marriage penalty and increase the benefit for married couples to double the individual rate, to put marriage equality within reach for SSI beneficiaries
- Eliminate benefit reductions that penalize beneficiaries who receive in-kind help from friends or family, such as groceries or a place to stay.
We Are Here To Help
Need help navigating SSD, SSI, or denied benefits? At Disability Attorneys of Michigan, Social Security Disability is our one and only specialty. If you or a loved one is or has recently become disabled and are looking to collect benefits, call our office at 800-701-5524 or submit an inquiry form on our website for a free consultation today.