As expected, President Obama’s FY 14 budget includes a proposal to use the “chained Consumer Price Index” – a slower-growing measure of inflation that would cut Social Security benefits by reducing annual cost-of-living adjustments. This is not just a technical change – but a benefit cut that would cause real hardship to the elderly and the poor. The President’s budget recognizes this threat and proposes some protections for vulnerable beneficiaries from the chained CPI – but NWLC analysis shows that this strategy is not adequate.
The budget proposes a bump-up in benefits for long-term beneficiaries, who would experience the worst cuts because the cuts grow deeper every year. In addition, the budget would not apply the chained CPI to needs-based benefit programs, such as Supplemental Security Income, or use it to determine eligibility for programs like SNAP (Food Stamps).
NWLC’s analysis finds that the small and gradual benefit increases from the bump-ups wouldn’t restore the monthly benefit of the typical single elderly woman to current-law levels—unless she lives to 104. Read more »
I have a few stories of my own about disabled adults on SSI, and trust me, they need it. Between 2008 and 2009, I spent a year as a case manager at a homeless shelter in Chicago. In that time, I worked with many guests and clients of the shelter who had mental and/or physical disabilities that prevented them from working. And when you can’t work – it’s hard to have enough income to let you meet basic needs. That’s where assistance programs came in.
One of my clients at the shelter was a man who had been on SSI since he was a child. He had been a part of the program that serves disabled children and had transitioned into the adult program after turning 18. Then in his late 20s, I worked with him as he went through the routine evaluation conducted to check disability status, or check that the person is still in need of SSI. This man wasn’t someone who was trying to cheat the system – he suffered from a mental illness, was unable to work, and as an adult had to continue to prove his need for SSI. His meager SSI check was what paid his rent, bought food, and got him around the city to appointments. Read more »
This week is the 40th anniversary of the Supplemental Security Income program, SSI. We celebrate SSI’s vital role in providing support to the elderly poor and to poor adults and children with disabilities. It’s a particularly important program for women, who make up over two-thirds of all beneficiaries 65 and older.
Forty isn’t very old. Our Social Security system is 77, and it’s an American classic. But key parts of SSI have barely changed in the 40 years since it was enacted – and it urgently needs to be updated.
For example, with the exception of $20 per month, every additional $1 in Social Security benefits means $1 less in SSI benefits. This amount hasn’t been changed since the program was created 40 years ago – but what you can buy with $20 sure has. Adjusting for inflation since 1972 would raise this amount to $110 per month, allowing individuals with very low Social Security benefits – disproportionately women – to get a more meaningful benefit from their years of work and contributions to Social Security. Read more »