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Dems Considering Historic Upgrade To SSI Disability Income

The Urban Institute released a report yesterday suggesting that fully funding the initiative could reduce the number of Americans living in poverty by 3.3 million.

A proposal in the Democratic spending bill could lift millions of America’s neediest people out of poverty, according to a new report, and Sen. Sherrod Brown is leading the charge. Via Huffington Post:

The proposal would bolster Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, which provides direct financial support to people who have disabilities or are elderly, and who have minimal assets and income.

President Joe Biden has endorsed the proposal and said he wants it to be part of the “human infrastructure” bill that Democrats hope to pass in the fall. On Monday, the Urban Institute released a report suggesting that fully funding the initiative could reduce the number of Americans living in poverty by 3.3 million.

[...] SSI is less well-known and frequently confused with SSDI, which stands for Social Security Disability Insurance and provides financial support to people with disabilities who have paid into the system by working. SSI, by contrast, is available to anybody who meets the criteria for age or disability, along with low income and assets.

SSI is vital and indispensable to the roughly 7.8 million Americans who currently receive the program’s monthly checks. But Congress has done little to update the program since it became law in 1972.

Most people know at least one person who's caught in this trap: the monthly benefits tap out at $794 a month, below the federal poverty level. And just $2,000 in savings can make them ineligible for benefits, because the program’s “asset limit” hasn’t been updated since 1989.

The new reforms would raise the benefit up to the full poverty level ($12,880 as of now) and increase the asset limits ― as well as tie the formula to inflation.

The legislation would also eliminate the marriage penalty that leads couples to choose between keeping their benefits and getting married, and change a prohibition on “in-kind support” that can reduces benefits if people accept groceries or a room from friends or family members.

Remember: When politicians start whining about the cost, remind them we were spending $300 million a day in Afghanistan -- and none of them were whining about that.

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