After working all our lives, raising families, and contributing to society, when we are no longer able to work, we all deserve the ability to meet our basic needs: to pay rent, buy food and medicine, keep the lights on, pay medical co-pays, and afford transportation to visit our doctors.
Unfortunately, more of us are being pushed into poverty as we grow older. Programs like Social Security are not keeping up with structural economic and demographic changes and they are constantly under attack to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy. Our economic security work focuses on the following areas to ensure that economic security programs are there when they’re needed, are sufficient to meet our basic needs, and are accessible without discrimination.
We work to protect and improve critical economic security programs like Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from cuts, and strengthen both programs to meet the needs of current and future older Americans–so we can all age with justice without worry of hunger and homelessness.
California has the highest rate of senior poverty in the nation. Older adults are struggling to make ends meet and stay in their homes, especially in the parts of California with the highest housing costs. Homelessness among California seniors is on the rise. The SSI program, administered by SSA, can be an economic lifeline for low-income older adults as it provides a very basic income to pay for shelter, food, and other necessities.
We believe that no senior should have to choose between food and medicine, become homeless, or lack heat in the winter. We’re working with members of Congress to garner support for the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2017, which Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), introduced in the House, along with 36 co-sponsors, in July 2017. We have been leading the effort to update the cornerstone poverty program for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.
U.S. Representatives Sam Johnson (R-Texas) and Kristi Noem (R-South Dakota) have introduced HR 2792 in Congress in an attempt to revive a disastrous old policy that existed prior to resolution of litigation in Martinez v. Astrue and Clark v. Astrue. This bill would not help law enforcement secure the arrest of people they are seeking; instead, hundreds of thousands of people who law enforcement has decided not to pursue would lose Social Security Old Age, Survivors or Disability Insurance benefits or SSI benefits.
Social Security and SSI recipients should be able to receive benefits without disruption. And when something goes wrong, there should be a fair and fast appeals process. We identify broken processes and work with the Social Security Administration to fix systemic problems with due process within the appeals process. We also give advocates the tools and information they need to fight for their clients throughout the appeals process.
As we age and more of us grow older while living with Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments, more of us will need to rely on others to manage our finances. The Social Security Administration’s Representative Payee Program allows older adults with cognitive impairments to designate another person to manage their benefits and finances, but the program is inadequate to meet the growing need and current payees don’t have adequate training resources. We’ve worked to shine a light on these problems and suggested measures the SSA could implement to make the program work better.