Social Security – Bill to Protect Social Security Benefits from Garnishments Introduced in House

Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and John Larson (D-CT) have introduced the “Protection of Social Security Benefits Restoration Act” (H.R. 4500). The bill would repeal a 1996 change in law that allowed earned benefits to be garnished by the federal government to collect federal debts, such as student loans and home loans owed to the Veterans Administration. The bill would prevent garnishment of Social Security retirement, survivors’, and disability benefits – as well as other earned benefits – to collect federal debts. Earlier this year, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a Senate version of this bill (S. 959). View a Huffington Post column by Rep. Grijalva for more information about the bill. The Arc strongly supports this much-needed legislation to maintain basic living standards for Social Security beneficiaries struggling to pay student loans and other federal debts.

Social Security – Bill to Strengthen Representative Payee Program Introduced in House

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT) have introduced the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2017 (H.R. 4547). The bill proposes numerous changes to Social Security’s representative payee program designed to enhance oversight and operations of the program. Visit the Committee on Ways and Means web site to view a summary of the bill, a section-by-section analysis, the full text of the bill, and related materials. The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.

Social Security – Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Hosts Webinar on Harmful Congressional Proposal to Stop SSI benefits for People with Outstanding Warrants

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Social Security Task Force and Justice in Aging held a webinar on Monday, November 20, 2017. The webinar reviewed proposed Congressional legislation to revive a disastrous old policy to prohibit the payment of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to people who are the subject of an arrest warrant for an alleged felony or an alleged violation of probation or parole. It featured remarks by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and presentations by Dara Baldwin, National Disability Rights Network; Tracey Gronniger, Justice in Aging; and T.J. Sutcliffe, The Arc. They discussed the details of the proposal, who it would harm, and why it is bad policy. Click here to view the archived webinar.

Social Security – Free Webinar: Why a Congressional Proposal to Stop SSI Benefits for People with Outstanding Warrants is so Harmful

Join the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Social Security Task Force and Justice in Aging for a free webinar on Monday, November 20, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. ET. The webinar will review proposed Congressional legislation to revive a disastrous old policy to prohibit the payment of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to people who are the subject of an arrest warrant for an alleged felony or an alleged violation of probation or parole. Learn about the proposal, who it would harm, and why it is bad policy. The webinar will feature introductory remarks by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and presentations by Dara Baldwin, National Disability Rights Network; Tracey Gronniger, Justice in Aging; and T.J. Sutcliffe, The Arc. Real-time captioning and ASL interpretation will be provided. This webinar is free, but registration is required. Click here to register.

Social Security – Social Security Administration Announces Cost of Living Increases for 2017

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced a two percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in 2018. The Social Security Act provides for annual COLA increases based on inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Because the CPI-W rose modestly over the last year, the 2017 COLA will increase benefits modestly. According to SSA, the average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker will increase by $27, from $1,377 in 2017 to $1,404 in 2018. The average monthly benefit for a Social Security “disabled worker” beneficiary will increase by $24, from $1,173 in 2017 to $1,197 in 2018. In addition, the SSI Federal Payment Standard will increase from $735 per month in 2017 to $750 per month in 2018. Important work incentive thresholds for Social Security and SSI beneficiaries with disabilities will also increase, including the Substantial Gainful Activity level and the Trial Work Period earnings level. View SSA’s fact sheet for more details on the 2018 Social Security COLA.

Social Security – House Vote Likely on Bill to Cut Off Basic Income for Adults with Disabilities and Seniors

On Monday, the House of Representatives Rules Committee will lay the groundwork for a House floor vote on legislation to cut off Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for certain people with disabilities and seniors. The full House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill at some point this week; a date has not yet been set. As amended by the Committee, H.R. 2792 would revive a failed former policy targeting SSI recipients with old, outstanding arrest warrants for alleged felonies or alleged violations of probation or parole. This former policy ended following the resolution of class action litigation. Federal law already prohibits payment of SSI benefits to people fleeing from law enforcement to avoid prosecution or imprisonment, and the Social Security Administration has a process in place to notify law enforcement of the whereabouts of such individuals. Based on experience with the former policy, H.R. 2792 would not help law enforcement to secure arrests, but instead would target people whose cases are inactive and whom law enforcement is not pursuing. Anecdotally, a very high percentage of people affected by the former policy were people with mental impairments, including people with intellectual disability. To learn more, read The Arc’s press statement condemning recent Committee action to advance this harmful legislation.

Social Security – House Committee Advances Bill to Cut Off Basic Income for Adults with Disabilities and Seniors

Last week, by a vote of 23 to 14, the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means advanced legislation to cut off Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for certain people with disabilities and seniors. As amended by the Committee, H.R. 2792 would revive a failed former policy targeting SSI recipients with old, outstanding arrest warrants for alleged felonies or alleged violations of probation or parole. This former policy ended following the resolution of class action litigation. Federal law already prohibits payment of SSI benefits to people fleeing from law enforcement to avoid prosecution or imprisonment, and the Social Security Administration has a process in place to notify law enforcement of the whereabouts of such individuals. Based on experience with the former policy, H.R. 2792 would not help law enforcement to secure arrests, but instead would target people whose cases are inactive and whom law enforcement is not pursuing. Anecdotally, a very high percentage of people affected by the former policy were people with mental impairments, including people with intellectual disability. View markup materials from the Committee and learn more in The Arc’s press statement condemning the Committee vote.

Social Security – House Holds Hearing on Determining Eligibility for Disability Benefits

On September 6, the House Committee on Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing on “Determining Eligibility for Disability Benefits: Challenges Facing the Social Security Administration.” Witnesses were Bea Disman, Acting Chief of Staff, Social Security Administration; Kathryn Larin, Director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues, Government Accountability Office; Elizabeth McLaren, Bureau Chief, Iowa Disability Determination Services on behalf of National Council of Disability Determination Directors; Marilyn Zahm, President, Association of Administrative Law Judges; and Lisa Ekman, Director of Government Affairs, National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives on behalf of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Social Security Task Force. Visit the committee web site to review testimony and archived video of the hearing.

Social Security – Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act Introduced in House and Senate

Last week, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) with 5 cosponsors and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) with one cosponsor have introduced the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act (H.R. 3302S. 1600). The bill would strengthen Social Security’s finances by removing the current cap on annual payroll contributions, set at $127,200 in 2017. It would also provide for more accurate and adequate annual cost of living adjustments for all Social Security Old-Age, Survivors’, and Disability Insurance benefits as well as Supplemental Security Income benefits. In the House, the bill has been referred to the Committees on Ways and Means, Education and the Workforce, and Energy and Commerce; in the Senate, the bill has been referred to the Committee on Finance.

Social Security – SSI Restoration Act Introduced in House

Last week, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and 36 cosponsors introduced the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Restoration Act (H.R. 3307). The bill would update and enhance the SSI program by updating the general earned income disregard to $114 per month, updating the earned income disregard to $377 per month, and updating the resource limits to $10,000 for an individual and $20,000 for a couple. Congress has not adjusted these limits in many years. In addition, the SSI Restoration Act would repeal SSI’s in-kind support and maintenance provisions as well as penalties for resource transfers, marriage, and state tax credits. The Arc and numerous other national organizations strongly support the SSI Restoration Act. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.