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 areas 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 for those who cannot work enough to meet their basic needs. In addition to expanding access to SSI benefits for older adults in California, we work to expand nutrition benefits for SSI recipients in California and recently added a housing component to our economic security work in California.
COVID-19: Low-income older adults and people with disabilities have faced significantly higher costs to meet basic needs during the pandemic, as well as unanticipated costs for delivery of food and medicine and purchasing PPE to safely shelter in place. In response, the state enacted the Golden State Stimulus and Golden State Grant, which provide stimulus payments to low- and moderate-income Californians, including the over 1 million SSI recipients in the state.
Fact Sheet: California’s State Stimulus & Low-Income Seniors, September 2021
Justice in Aging is working to increase access to and utilization of SSI benefits among older adults in California, and to build a strong coalition of statewide advocates who are informed about and trained in the details of the SSI program, and interested in working toward systemic improvements. These efforts will both deepen our impact in California and help inform our efforts to fight senior poverty throughout the nation.
Webinar: SSI Basics, October, 2016
Fact Sheet: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in California, October, 2019
Statewide Coalition Website: Californians for SSI
Due to a policy change 2019, California seniors and people with disabilities who receive SSI can be eligible for CalFresh (SNAP) benefits. Previously, state policy had barred Californians who receive SSI from receiving CalFresh benefits. This expansion of CalFresh eligibility will be particularly important for seniors age 60 or older, who represent more than half of the over 1.2 million low-income Californians who receive SSI to help meet their basic needs.
Access to federal SNAP nutrition assistance will increase food security for California’s low-income SSI seniors and people with disabilities, giving people more flexibility to direct money toward other needs such as finding and being able to afford housing.
Fact Sheet: CalFresh Benefits for SSI Recipients, April, 2019
Resource Page: California Association of Food Banks, updated regularly
CalFresh Agency Webpage, updated regularly
Californians for SSI CalFresh Webpage, updated regularly
Justice in Aging works to increase access to and utilization of SSI benefits among older adults in California, and to build a strong coalition of statewide advocates who are informed about and trained in the details of the SSI program, and interested in working toward systemic improvements. These efforts will both deepen our impact in California and help inform our efforts to fight senior poverty throughout the nation.
As a part of the Californians for SSI Coalition, Justice in Aging is pushing to increase the state supplement to the federal SSI grant to an amount that reflects the real cost of living for seniors and people with disabilities. The state supplement to the federal SSI grant was cut significantly during the recession, with devastating costs to the individuals who rely on SSI for their basic needs, to their families and communities, and to the state. These cuts have never been restored, leaving low income seniors and people with disabilities struggling to survive with an income far below the real cost of living in the state. Increasing the state supplement will help the 1.2 million California seniors and people with disabilities who rely on SSI to be able to pay for basic needs like rent, food, transportation, utilities, and healthcare co-pays.
Master Plan Recommendations: Increase Income for Seniors and People with Disabilities who Receive SSI/SSP, February, 2020