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Congress Overlooks Bill Meant to Up SSI Recipient Asset Cap

Homeless man using wheelchair on city street in wintry rain.Despite support from both sides of the aisle and appeals from disability advocates across the country, proposed legislation intended to offer greater financial support to millions of older adults and people with disabilities is not part of Congress’ year-end spending package.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that was created in 1972. It provides people with eligible disabilities and older individuals who have limited income with a modest monthly payment meant to help them cover the cost of food, clothing, and housing.

Under current law, SSI recipients are prohibited from having more than $2,000 in countable assets. The SSI Savings Penalty Elimination Act (S. 4102), introduced in the spring of 2022 by senators from Ohio, sought to push this asset cap to $10,000 for individuals. For couples, the bill looked to move the asset threshold from $3,000 to $20,000.

“Rising costs and inflation is hurting all Americans, but especially our nation’s seniors and those with disabilities” co-sponsor Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) had said in a May 2022 news release announcing the proposed legislation. “Yet the Supplemental Security Income program that serves these vulnerable populations hasn’t been updated in decades and punishes them for trying to save responsibly.”

In 2022, SSI beneficiaries nationwide received an average monthly benefit of $625.50 per individual. For some, SSI benefits are their sole source of income.

The changes proposed by the Savings Penalty Elimination Act would have been the first inflation adjustment to the program’s asset limits in nearly four decades.