Beneficiaries of Supplemental Security Income will receive two payments in September, each worth a maximum of $1,682.
The second check, however, is not a cause for joy because it is not additional cash. This advances the date on which payments are distributed in months with bank holidays. Beneficiaries of SSI won’t receive any money in October.
For those who qualify for this government program, which supports aged, crippled, and blind people with low or no incomes, the maximum check is $841 in 2022. The average benefit is $624 per month.
The support that SSI offers is minimal
It can be challenging to manage finances for the 8 million people who depend on SSI assistance. This is because to the severe asset and income restrictions they must adhere to, many of which have not been revised in decades.
According to recent study from the Urban Institute, the majority of program users are living within 150% of the federal poverty level. According to Richard Johnson, director of the program on retirement policy at the Urban Institute, certain states may augment SSI, which might assist some beneficiaries rise beyond the federal poverty line.
Even still, many recipients face financial difficulties.
“SSI just provides a bare bones support for older people and people with disabilities,” Johnson said. “It really highlights how little support we provide for the most vulnerable Americans.”
Reform of SSI is being pushed by lawmakers
According to Rebecca Vallas, senior fellow and co-director of The Century Foundation’s Disability Economic Justice Collaborative, SSI payments are ripe for an improvement.
“Forgetting about SSI for 40-plus years is the poster child of why, it is Exhibit A of why disabled people do not feel that their leaders in Washington care about them,” Vallas said.
That might be about to alter as lawmakers in Washington become more interested in modernizing the program.
Two senators from Ohio, Sherrod Brown (a Democrat) and Rob Portman (a Republican), presented a plan this spring that would permit recipients to save more money without compromising their eligibility for benefits.
Both Democrats and Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors of the plan. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, is one of them and has committed to work hard to advance it this year.
Advocates anticipate that it will only be the first step in the program’s modernization, as most of it has not been changed since its inception in 1972.
“I want to do much, much more,” Regarding SSI reform, Sen. Brown stated in an interview with CNBC.com in May.
How the $2,000 asset cap might alter
A $2,000 asset cap applies to SSI recipients as of right, while a $3,000 cap applies to couples.
This is referred to as a person’s “resource limit” by the Social Security Administration and covers any assets that person has that can be converted into cash, such as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, or other real estate.
The legislation by Brown and Portman aims to increase these ceilings, which have not been altered since 1984, to $10,000 for single people and $20,000 for married couples.
Additionally, such caps would be modified annually under the plan and would be inflation-indexed.
For the time being, SSI recipients may rely on the knowledge that the two checks they will receive in September will not cause them to have more assets than the $2,000 limit.
“The bottom line is, you don’t have to go out on a binge or spend more money than you would prefer not to, because that $2,000 limit doesn’t apply to the second check,” the senior attorney at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Richard Weishaupt.
Why SSI recipients’ employment options are constrained
The amount of money that SSI recipients can make before their benefits are cut off is also capped, in addition to the asset limits.
Beneficiaries are permitted to receive up to $20 in unearned income each month, and the program’s regulations do not apply to the first $65 of their earnings. However, for every dollar of additional income, their SSI benefits will be decreased by 50 cents.
According to a recent research from the Urban Institute, those requirements have not altered since 1972 and are not inflation-indexed.
According to the Urban Institute, if they had been updated to reflect inflation, they would be more than five times as large as they are now, with the general income threshold being $128 as opposed to the current $20. Additionally, the earned income criterion would increase from the present $65 to $416 per month.
“If you can’t work, it’s hard to improve your living standards,” Johnson said. “SSI beneficiaries are really overwhelmingly dependent on government benefits.”
Sen. Brown has already suggested broader change to modernize those elements, even if his most recent plan does not touch these income constraints.
The advantages of comprehensive SSI reform, which includes revisions to both the income and asset limits, were lauded in a recent analysis by the J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Policy Center.
“The current structure of the SSI program places individuals with disabilities who work at risk of losing their economic security,” as per the report. “A reformed SSI program would play a crucial role in expanding economic opportunity and mobility for people with disabilities.”