In our last two blog posts, we've been examining the Supplemental Security Income as the government program celebrates 40 years of existence. In this post, we'll look at ways the SSI program could be strengthened or improved to better serve the needs of those individuals it's intended to serve and ultimately protect.
Individuals who qualify for SSI benefits must meet certain asset limit requirements. Currently for an individual to quality for SSI benefits they must not have assets in excess of $2,000. Couples who wish to apply must not have assets in excess of $3,000. Since its creation, the asset limit requirement has only been amended once.
These requirements are arguably outdated and have not been amended to account for inflation and current cost of living estimates. In fact, if such factors were taken into account, asset limits for qualification of benefits should be around $7,000 for an individual and $10,500 for a couple.
The government's failure to amend qualifying SSI asset requirements, is essentially forcing millions of elderly and disabled Americans to live in poverty.
Additionally, monthly SSI benefit amounts do not currently reflect actual inflation and cost of living expenses. Any increases and adjustments to benefit amounts are always severely underestimated. This results many elderly and disabled SSI recipients still living below the government-established poverty line.
While there is no quick fix for the many and varied problems that plague the SSI benefits program, it's important that Americans continue to pressure state legislators about these topics. Inadequate funding for Social Security Disability programs impact the lives of millions of Americans who desperately need the help and assistance the program provides.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Happy Birthday, SSI: A Safety Net for Vulnerable Americans," Donna Meltzer, Oct. 30, 2012