May 15, 2013

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 2010

Dear Representative:

I am writing on behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare to request that you cosponsor H.R. 1601, the “Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2013.” This bill would strengthen and restore the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which provides basic income support to 8.2 million low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

The National Committee applauds Representative Raul Grijalva for introducing this bill, which would accomplish something that Congress has failed to do for over 40 years, and that is to keep the SSI program vital and up-to-date for our nation’s most vulnerable seniors who depend on SSI to meet their needs. The SSI Restoration Act performs an important service in strengthening SSI today and for the future, and we urge you to join Representative Grijalva by becoming a cosponsor of this important piece of legislation.

H.R. 1601, the SSI Restoration Act, would update provisions in the SSI program that are woefully out of date, some of which have never been adjusted for inflation since the program’s enactment in 1972.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 40 years. Since 1972, the cost of living has risen more than five and a half times, but the general income exclusion has remained constant at $20 per month, while the monthly exclusion for earnings is still $65.

Another element of the SSI program is an asset limit. For decades, this limit has been set at $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a married couple. This unrealistic limit, which has been increased since 1972 by only 33 percent, prevents many truly needy people from qualifying for SSI and is insufficient in today’s economy. 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 the purpose of 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 more consistent with America’s family values and simplify administration of the program.

The bill that Representative Grijalva has drafted, H. R. 1601, the “SSI Restoration Act,” gives all Members of Congress an opportunity to join in making long-overdue improvements to a program that provides vital life-saving assistance to our nation’s neediest and most vulnerable citizens. We urge you to review this bill and consider joining Representative Grijalva as a cosponsor. The contact in Representative Grijalva’s office is Kelsey Mishkin (Kelsey.mishkin@mail.house.gov), who can be reached at 202-225-2435.

Sincerely,

Max Richtman
President and CEO