Senate Bill Proposes Changes to SSI Program

The Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2014 was introduced recently in the U.S. Senate by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). This legislation would update rules such as one that recognizes the value of past work by disregarding the first $20 of Social Security Retirement or other monthly income when determining SSI eligibility, a rule that hasn’t been updated in more than 40 years.  The SSI Restoration Act will increase the disregard to $110 to account for inflation.  The bill also increases the amount of resources an SSI recipient can retain from $2,000 to $10,000.  The bill also eliminates the provision that reduces the monthly benefit whenever someone receives food or housing for less than fair market value from another person, including family members.

SSI provides subsistence-level income to two million older adults with very limited financial resources who are either age 65 or over or cannot perform substantial work because of a severe disability. More than two thirds of older adults receiving SSI payments are women and one out of every three applying for the program has a primary language other than English.