Portman, Brown Introduces Two-Party Legislation to Reform Supplemental Security Revenue Programs to Stop Punishing Americans for Saving in Emergencies

Senators introduce the first significant bipartisan SSI legislation in more than 30 years

3 May 2022


Press release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, US Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced the introduction of Savings Penalty Elimination Act to update the asset limits for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) recipients, which would allow beneficiaries to have more savings in the event of an emergency without affecting their benefits. The Senators’ bill, the first significant bipartisan piece of legislation in decades, would bring the SSI program into the 21st century and ensure that disabled and elderly Ohio residents can live with dignity.

An often-forgotten part of the US social security system, SSI is a federal program that provides vital income support to nearly eight million elderly and disabled Americans with low incomes and limited resources, including over one million disabled children. But due to decades of shameful federal neglect, the program is now handing over millions to deep and enduring poverty, when instead it should offer a lifeline out of it.

“Rising costs and inflation are hurting all Americans, but especially our nation’s seniors and those with disabilities. Yet the Supplemental Security Income program that serves these vulnerable groups has not been updated for decades and punishes them for trying to save responsibly.” in Senator Portman. “I’m pleased to be able to present this legislation with Senator Brown to update SSI’s restrictive access limits and better meet the needs of vulnerable seniors and Ohio residents with disabilities.”

“We should not punish seniors and Ohio residents with disabilities who do the right thing and save money for emergencies by removing the money they depend on to live.in Senator Brown. “SSI’s arbitrary and outdated rules are meaningless. Our two-part bill would update the old rules for the first time in decades and allow beneficiaries to save for emergencies without exposing the benefits they depend on to live in danger.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. recently published a study which suggests that current asset and income limits for federal benefits for people with disabilities create barriers to labor force participation and accumulating savings. According to the study, updating asset limits for SSI, as the senators Savings Penalty Elimination Act would do, would “expand economic opportunities and mobility for people with disabilities.”

“JPMorgan Chase is proud to be a leading employer for people with disabilities, but outdated asset and income limits for federal benefits to this community create barriers to employment and career development and limit savings for education, retirement or unexpected expenses for these families. Updating and simplifying The asset and income limits for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will help increase economic opportunities and mobility for people with disabilities while promoting a more inclusive workforce. ” by Jim Sinocchi, VD, Office of Disability Inclusion, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The current SSI program has not been updated since the 1980s and punishes these Americans for working, saving for the future and getting married. Right now, individuals who receive SSI are limited to $ 2,000 in assets; for married couples it is $ 3,000. The average current monthly benefit is $ 585 for individuals. For about 60 percent of the recipients, SSI is their only source of income.

“People with disabilities across Ohio rely on SSI for access to Medicaid and to help them pay for their daily expenses. But outdated SSI rules prevent people from saving – trapping them in poverty. For the first time in decades, this two-party legislation would do reforms of SSI that are needed for a long time and ensure that people with disabilities can save more for emergencies and get a little more breathing space. ” said Gary Tonks, President and CEO, The Arc of Ohio.

“SSI is nothing short of a lifeline for nearly eight million of the country’s poorest seniors and the disabled. But since SSI has been left to wither on the vine for nearly 40 years, now deplorably outdated program rules are banishing elderly and disabled beneficiaries to deep and lasting poverty, despite the program was meant to provide a way out.said Rebecca Vallas, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation who leads the organization’s team for economic justice for the disabled. “By updating SSI’s asset limits for inflation for the first time since 1989, this historic two-party legislation represents a major step forward for SSI’s long – forgotten beneficiaries. Congress should act swiftly to pass this important piece of legislation so that disabled and elderly Americans are no longer prevented from saving and planning for the future. “

“It is long overdue for Congress to re-update SSI’s asset limits, which have become too restrictive and prevent the accumulation of even modest personal savings,” he said. said Bill Sweeney, Senior Vice President at AARP.

Senators Savings Penalty Elimination Act would:

  • Update the access limits for SSI receivers so that they can receive more savings in the event of an emergency without affecting their benefits.
  • The bill will change these ceilings, which have not been changed since 1984, to $ 10,000 and $ 20,000, respectively, and index them to inflation going forward.


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