- The senses. Brown and Portman outlined a plan to update a key Social Security program.
- They want to make sure Americans with disabilities can store money without losing their monthly benefits.
- Currently, more than 5 million SSI recipients receive an average of $625.50 per month.
A Democratic and Republican senator has introduced a bill to make it easier for disabled and elderly Americans to save without being cut off from their Social Security benefits.
Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and GOP Sen. Rob Portman introduced the legislation late last week. Ohio senators say the plan aims to increase the amount of money people on the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program can have in their bank accounts before being cut off from payments.
SSI is an underlying part of Social Security that provides monthly cash payments to generally low-income Americans with disabilities. The asset limit for the program is currently only $2,000 for singles and $3,000 for couples. Beneficiaries who exceed the limit under the existing rules lose their Social Security benefits. These thresholds have not been lifted for more than three decades.
The bill would increase the limits to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for married people filing jointly.
“We shouldn’t punish the elderly and disabled people of Ohio who do the right thing and save money for emergencies by taking away the money they depend on to live on,” Brown said in a statement. “SSI’s arbitrary and outdated rules make no sense.”
Portman said in the same statement that he wanted to provide additional financial assistance to people who felt burdened by inflation.
Currently, more than 5 million SSI recipients receive an average of $625.50 per month. It is the main source of income for more than half of all recipients, according to the centre-left Budget and Policy Priorities.
It’s not the only policy that penalizes Americans with disabilities. Employers are allowed to pay certain workers with disabilities what’s called a “subminimum wage” – wages below the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. Americans with disabilities can risk losing disability benefits and access to Medicaid if they marry, which Rep. Jimmy Panetta has also introduced legislation to change.
The fate of the Brown and Portman legislation is unclear since Republican support is far from assured. Brown told Insider on Tuesday that he aims to do “whatever it takes” to make it law.
He opened the door to make sure this is part of the Democrats’ stalled party reconciliation bill, a bipartisan measure to increase competitiveness with China, or a year-end government spending program.