NEWS: Sanders Co-Leads Senators Introducing the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act

WASHINGTON, June 16 — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Wednesday joined Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in re-introducing the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act to update the long-neglected social security program and aid older adults and people with disabilities who are trapped in poverty.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that provides vital income assistance to nearly 8 million elderly and disabled Americans with low-incomes and limited resources, including over 1 million disabled children. But due to decades of shameful federal neglect, the program now consigns millions to deep and enduring poverty, when it should instead offer a lifeline out of it.

“Nearly 15,000 Vermonters depend on Supplemental Security,” said Sen. Sanders. “But SSI benefits do not even reach the federal poverty line. And oppressive asset and income restrictions force those with disabilities to spend their lives in poverty. Enough is enough. It is time to expand SSI to ensure people with disabilities get the benefits they need.”

“The promise of Social Security is to ensure that no one in America should live in poverty – least of all our nation’s seniors and people with disabilities,” said Sen. Brown. “By updating SSI we can deliver on this promise and ensure disabled and elderly Ohioans are able to live with dignity. Congress must prioritize these long-overdue reforms as part of upcoming recovery legislation.”

The SSI Restoration Act would:

  • Raise SSI’s sub-poverty-level monthly benefits, currently $794 per month, to 100% of the federal poverty level – a 31% increase –  and index them to inflation.
  • Update and index the assets individuals or couples may have up to $10,000 and $20,000, respectively. The current limit of $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple has not been updated since 1989.
  • Update and index SSI’s income rules – which have never been updated since the program was signed into law in 1972. 
  • Eliminate the marriage penalty and increase the benefit for married couples to double the individual rate, to put marriage equality within reach for SSI beneficiaries.
  • Eliminate benefit reductions that penalize beneficiaries who receive in-kind help from friends or family, such as groceries or a place to stay.

In April, Sen. Sanders, along with Sens. Brown and Warren and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), led colleagues in calling for the Biden administration to make historic and much-needed expansions and improvements to the SSI program as part of “building back better.” 

Recent polling by Data for Progress in partnership with The Century Foundation finds that more than 7 in 10 Americans support each of these long-overdue measures to update SSI.