November 8, 2017
The Honorable Raul Grijalva
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Representative Grijalva:
On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare I am writing to endorse your bill, H.R. 3307, the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2017. The National Committee commends you for introducing this bill, which strengthens and restores the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program for the 8.3 million low-income seniors and people with disabilities that depend on the program for basic income support.
Your bill updates provisions in the SSI program that are woefully out of date, some of which have never been adjusted for inflation since the program’s enactment in 1972. For example, rules that disregard a portion of an individual’s income when determining an individual’s eligibility for SSI benefits have not changed in 45 years. Since 1972, annual cost of living adjustments have resulted in a five-fold increase in the SSI monthly benefit, but the general income exclusion has remained constant at $20 per month, while the monthly exclusion for earnings is still $65.
Another shortcoming of the SSI program is its asset limit. Since 1989 this limit has been set at $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a married couple. This unrealistic limit prevents many truly needy people from qualifying for SSI. The SSI Restoration Act would increase this limit to $10,000 for an individual and $15,000 for an eligible couple, which represents more realistic amounts for planning for emergencies and other unexpected expenses.
The SSI Restoration Act also eliminates a rule requiring a loss of some benefits for SSI beneficiaries who also receive non-cash in-kind assistance. This provision is unfair to affected individuals and has proven to be enormously difficult for the Social Security Administration to administer. Elimination of this provision would both make the program fairer and simplify its administration.
The National Committee proudly endorses H.R. 3307, the “Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act.” This bill represents an important step in modernizing this long-neglected program, and we thank you for your leadership in this important endeavor.
President and CEO