Understand the problems regarding SSI


By Jessica DeVries

Wneed to contact our legislators about the first step to solving a problem with the Supplemental Security Income program — the SSI Restoration Act. SSI is a form of social security for those over the age of 65, those who are blind or those who have a disability. It was created as a safety net for those who have never been able to work, support themselves, save for retirement or pay into traditional social security. However, several problems have accompanied SSI.

The maximum monthly SSI award, $750, is extremely low. Plus, restrictive resource caps make saving an impossibility. Resource caps — which include limits on cash, bank accounts, savings and other assets — have a lifetime limit of $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples. If an SSI beneficiary ever has more than the limit in their possession, their benefit will decrease or cease entirely.

In turn, SSI beneficiaries constantly spend extra money at the end of the month to continue receiving the benefits they need, never saving for the future. The problem is greater for beneficiaries who work part-time, as the benefit is still needed to supplement expenses, but it decreases; plus, there is still no mechanism for saving money earned.

Special Needs Trusts and ABLE accounts are options for beneficiaries with family who want to help set them up for the future. However, trusts are unable to be made in the name of the beneficiary, and ABLE accounts have limits to how much can be saved each year. As a result, both of these options come up short.

The SSI Restoration Act would raise the cap significantly and would account for inflation in the future. Please contact your legislators and ask them to bring this act up in Congress.

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Jessica is a graduate student in Social Work. 

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