SSI Restoration Act Facts

You may have heard talk of a new bill that would change a few things about SSI, especially if you are currently receiving or want to apply for SSI. The SSI Restoration Act of 2021 was recently introduced in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. What do you need to know about this Act? Read on to find out:

Background

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the Social Security Administration’s program for low-income, blind, and/or disabled adults and children. It provides a small monthly payment – in 2021, the maximum monthly payment was $794 for an individual and $1,191 for a married couple. The SSI Restoration Act has been introduced into both houses to bring the SSI program back to its original intended form.

Fact #1: The SSI program has not been updated in quite some time

President Nixon initially signed SSI into law, and many of its eligibility rules have not changed since then. The disqualifying unearned income for beneficiaries, for example, is the same $20 that it was in 1972, despite the cost of living increasing by 5.5 times since that year. Similarly, the disqualifying earned income ($65 per month) has not been increased since 1972, and the disqualifying asset limit has not been changed since 1989. While legislators tried in 2013 to pass an SSI Restoration Act and then later incorporated it into the Build Back Better Act, it is now a new, standalone piece of legislation.

Fact #2: More individuals will become eligible for SSI under the Act

If the SSI Restoration Act is passed, more individuals will become eligible, who may not have been previously eligible due to assets or monthly income. The earned income exclusion (for those able to work) will be raised to $416 a month per individual. Those individuals receiving other Social Security benefits or pension payments will be able to receive up to $128 monthly without penalty. Certain tax credits will also be excluded from income calculations. Similarly, the savings limits would be raised to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for couples for emergency savings, excluding retirement savings.

Fact #3: SSI recipients may earn more under the Act

A major complaint against the current SSI system is that the monthly payment still leaves recipients under the poverty line if they rely solely on SSI. The SSI Restoration Act will fix this problem, such that the benefit rate will be at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Level and will adjust annually. Another change is the removal of the “marriage penalty.” In the old system, married couples received a lower amount of benefits than if they were unmarried individuals. Under the Restoration Act, married recipients will both receive their full benefit.

If you are confused about how the SSI Restoration Act might affect you or have questions about SSI in general, our attorneys can help! Our lawyers are knowledgeable about the current SSI program and the SSI Restoration Act. Contact us today for a consultation.

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