| Sen. Bernie Sanders Wednesday joined Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in re-introducing the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act to raise the minimum monthly benefit 31%.|
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that provides income assistance to nearly 8 million elderly and disabled Americans with low-incomes and limited resources, including over 1 million disabled children.
“But due to decades of shameful federal neglect, the program now consigns millions to deep and enduring poverty, when it should instead offer a lifeline out of it….Nearly 15,000 Vermonters depend on Supplemental Security,” said Sen. Sanders.
The Sanders press statement called asset and income restrictions “oppressive.”
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.
– 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.
A 31% “raise” for eight million minimum SSI recipients at $246/month would cost $2 billion/month, or $24 billion per year. The press statement does not indicate how the SSI increase would be paid for. However, the Social Security Administration says all revenue comes from a total of three sources: payroll taxes, interest earnings, and revenue from taxation of benefits.
“In 2019, $944.5 billion (89 percent) of total Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance income came from payroll taxes. The remainder was provided by interest earnings $80.8 billion (7.6 percent) and revenue from taxation of OASDI benefits $36.5 billion (3.4 percent).
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