Social Security’s SSI Disability Program Turns 41 Today!

On October 30, 1972, President Richard M. Nixon signed into law an amendment to the Social Security Act that created the Supplemental Security Income program. Over eight million Americans, all of them at least age 65 or unable to work because of severe disabilities, now rely on the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program for their survival.

“It’s important to recognize the ongoing value and importance of SSI to many poor elderly and persons with disabilities, but the fact is that today, older adults who rely on SSI for their income security are deeper in poverty than when the program started,” said NSCLC Executive Director Kevin Prindiville. “It’s time to restore the program so that it can fulfill its intent to get people out of poverty and enable them to live a life of dignity and independence.”

The federal benefit rate is $710 per month for individuals and some states supplement this with a small additional sum and also provide Medicaid benefits to recipients.  However, a SSI recipient cannot have more than $2,000 in resources. And, in most states, someone must have less than $730 in monthly income in order to be eligible. SSI benefits can also be reduced if someone receives in-kind food and/or housing, even from a family member.

“Many SSI rules make it difficult if not impossible for people to survive,” Prindiville added. “We should see this anniversary as an opportunity to restore the purchasing power of the SSI benefit.”

NSCLC joins with 49 other national and local organizations in endorsing the SSI Restoration Act of 2013 (H.R. 1601) which would fix many of the outdated and burdensome rules.