Grijalva to Congress: Update SSI

Grijalva to Congress: Update SSI by Linda Valdez

The Arizona Republic | (posted 5/19/2015)

Arizona’s Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva must be immune to brick walls. He’s trying to get a GOP-controlled House to show a little compassion for people.

People, not corporations!

Grijalva’s got the country’s most notable progressive – Sen. Bernie Sanders – on board.

Cue John Lennon – this is a moment to imagine what might still be possible.

A time to imagine a nation that acts on a commitment to the poor and vulnerable.

It may not be fashionable with the party controlling Congress. But it is long overdue.

So Grijalva is back with the Supplemental Security Restoration Act of 2015. (He tried this in 2013, too.) In addition to Sanders, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are on board.

It’s an effort to update Supplemental Security Income, SSI, which was created in 1972 as a way to help the elderly and/or people with disabilities. It’s based on need, not work history.

We’re not talking about welfare queens. The full monthly benefit of is $733, according to the advocacy group Justice in Aging.

Grijalva calls the current program “painfully inadequate for the elderly and disabled Americans who rely on it.” It has benefits that are “frozen in time” and layered with restrictive requirements that mean “many recipients are now subjected to the very life of poverty it was intended to prevent,” according to a press release from his office.

These are not major changes. They are basic updates.

According to Justice in Aging the bill would mean:

1) Individuals will be able to save up to $10,000 and couples will be able to save up to $15,000 for emergencies such as car repairs, new roofs, and other unexpected expenses without losing benefits.

2) Individuals will be able to receive up to $112 monthly from other sources, such as Social Security benefits or pension payments without a corresponding loss in benefits.

3) Individuals who are able to work will be able to earn up to $364 a month without being penalized.

4) Individuals who live in households with others, including family members, will no longer be penalized with lower benefits through the in-kind support and maintenance provision.

5) Individuals who transfer assets (even small amounts of money to a family member) will no longer suffer harsh penalties.

Modest, humble changes.

If the GOP cares about human dignity and vulnerable populations, this bill would be a no brainer.

But Grijalva is dealing with a brick wall. Public support could become his crash helmet. That means you.

Read full article.

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