SIGN NOW: Fix SSI and fire the Trump appointees who are sabotaging Social Security!
At the height of the pandemic, and in the waning days of Trump’s presidency, Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul tried to enact a cruel policy that would take benefits away from hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities. Trump may be gone, but his appointees are still running the Social Security Administration.
We’ve been alerted to a new way Saul and his deputy, David Black, are sabotaging Social Security: By making it harder for people to apply for Social Security’s companion program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), creating a historic drop in applications at a time when we should have seen an uptick due to the pandemic.
SIGN NOW: Demand that President Biden fire Andrew Saul and David Black, and that SSI be improved to build back better!
Saul & Black have pushed the Social Security Administration to reject more claims, increase wait times, and erect miles of red tape between Americans and their earned benefits. This SSI problem is just the latest example. Just like Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, they were put in place by ideologues who don’t believe in the core mission of the agency they’re charged with maintaining―and we’re all suffering as a result.
SSI is an essential program for the most vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities, including over 1 million children. We need to protect and expand it—not dismantle it.
Building SSI back better means:
1. Increase monthly benefits to at least the Federal Poverty Level.
SSI’s maximum monthly benefit in 2021 is just $794 per month, equivalent to roughly three-quarters of the Federal Poverty Level for an individual. That’s too low.
2. Raise SSI’s outdated asset limit.
Under current law, SSI beneficiaries are prohibited from having even modest emergency savings. The program’s asset limit—set at $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple—has not been updated since 1989, and has lost significant purchasing power over the more than three decades during which they’ve remained stuck at those levels. SSI’s asset limit should be increased to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for couples.
3. Update SSI’s income rules.
Another key element of the SSI program that has been in need of an update for decades is SSI’s income exclusions, which allow beneficiaries who are able to work to supplement their income. While SSA “disregards” the first $65 of earned income and the first $20 of “unearned” income per month, monthly SSI benefits are reduced for every dollar over those thresholds. Those amounts were last updated in 1972! The earned income disregard should be increased to $416 and the unearned disregard should be $128. In addition to being updated, they should be indexed to inflation moving forward.
4. Eliminate the “in-kind support and maintenance” rule.
Due to this policy, an SSI beneficiary who is deemed to have received in-kind support—such as a bag of groceries from a family member to help them have enough food for the month, or a place to stay to ensure they have a roof over their head—can see already-sub-poverty-level benefits reduced by one-third.
5. Abolish marriage penalties.
It is not only economic security that is out of reach for SSI beneficiaries: marriage is also off the table, due to SSI’s current rules. The program’s harsh marriage penalties reduce monthly benefits by one-quarter for SSI beneficiaries who marry another SSI beneficiary—and can result in loss of benefits altogether for those who marry someone not receiving SSI.
President Biden promised to do all of these things on the campaign trail. People who rely on SSI need action now!
Tell President Biden: Improve SSI with the American Jobs Plan, and fire the Trump appointees who are sabotaging Social Security!