Social Security/Income Support: Representatives Reintroduce SSI Restoration Act

On September 11, Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and 20 other co-sponsors reintroduced the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Restoration Act of 2019 (H.R.4280). The bill would update and enhance the SSI program by updating the general earned income disregard to $123 per month, updating the earned income disregard to $399 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 strongly supports the SSI Restoration Act.

Income Support: The Administration Proposes Cutting Food Assistance for 3.1 Million; Comments Due September 23

On July 24, the Administration issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would cut current eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). For the past 20 years, states have had flexibility to adjust SNAP eligibility to reflect local and state dynamics and to help low-income people to avoid a SNAP benefit cliff. Unfortunately, this proposal would eliminate that flexibility and cut off SNAP benefits for 3.1 million individuals. This change will also eliminate eligibility for free school meals for the children in those families. SNAP provides food assistance that helps approximately 11 million people with disabilities. The Arc strongly opposes the changes in the proposed rule. Watch The Arc’s video on the importance of SNAP. Comments are due September 23.

Income Support: The Administration Proposes Cutting Food Assistance for 3.1 Million

On July 24, the Administration issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would cut current eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). For the past 20 years, states have had flexibility to adjust SNAP eligibility to reflect local and state dynamics and to help low-income people to avoid a SNAP benefit cliff. Unfortunately, this proposal would eliminate that flexibility and cut off SNAP benefits for 3.1 million individuals. This change will also eliminate eligibility for free school meals for the children in those families. SNAP provides food assistances that helps approximately 11 million people with disabilities. The Arc strongly opposes the changes in the proposed rule. Watch The Arc’s video on the importance of SNAP.

Income Support: OMB Seeking Comments on Federal Poverty Level Inflation Measures

On May 7, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a notice of solicitation of comments on how to measure inflation for purposes of determining the federal poverty level. The agency currently uses the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) to calculate inflation. One option being considered is the Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U). The C-CPI-U will result in a lower estimation of inflation than under current practice. Over time, this change would result in people losing eligibility for these critical programs. The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is used to determine eligibility for several means-tested benefits, including Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Income Support: Workers Speak Out on Disability and Health: New Report on Paid Family Leave and the Disability Angle

The Arc and the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have released Disability Perspectives on Paid Leave: A Qualitative Analysis of Leave-taking Among Workers Affected by Disabilities or Serious Health Conditions. This ground-breaking research examines how workers with disabilities and working caregivers of people with disabilities use, need, and benefit from paid family and medical leave. It is one of the only studies to specifically explore whether current paid and unpaid leave policies and programs meet the needs of the disability community. Findings offer key insights on how existing leave policies can become more disability-inclusive and highlight the need for a comprehensive, national paid leave policy. Read the full report at www.thearc.org/paidleavestudy.

Income Support: House and Senate Pass Bipartisan Farm Bill That Protects and Preserves SNAP

Last week, House and Senate conferees released a bipartisan Conference Report on the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (H.R. 2; also known as the “Farm Bill”), to reauthorize U.S. farm policies and programs as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Following the release of the conference report, the bill was passed in the Senate by a vote of 87-13 and in the House by a vote of 369-47. In a statement, The Arc’s Senior Executive Officer of Public Policy, Marty Ford, noted, “We are pleased that the version of the bill that was passed rejects cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, which more than 11 million people with disabilities across the United States rely on to help them eat.” Read The Arc’s full statement.

Employment / Income Support – New Briefs, Video Highlight the Need for Paid Leave in the Disability Community

The Arc and the Research and Training Center on Community Living at the University of Minnesota have released two new data briefs from the Family & Individual Needs for Disability Supports (FINDS) survey. The briefs look at the work experiences and outcomes of families of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and the need for paid leave policies. One brief focuses on parents raising children with I/DD, while a second brief focuses on family caregivers of adults with I/DD. In addition, The Arc has released a new video which shares a personal story highlighting the importance of access to paid leave for people with disabilities and their families. Learn more at https://www.thearc.org/paidleave.

Income Support – House and Senate Conference Considers Changes to SNAP in Farm Bill

This summer, the House and Senate enacted separate versions of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (H.R. 2; commonly known as the “Farm Bill”), to reauthorize farm programs and policy as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The House’s version proposes major cuts to basic food assistance under SNAP, while the Senate’s bipartisan bill does not include the House’s proposed cuts to SNAP. Last week, the Farm Bill Conference held a public meeting. Conferees shared perspectives on their efforts to produce an agreement between the House and Senate to reauthorize the Farm Bill before the current authorization expires on September 30, 2018. Visit the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry for archived video of the meeting.

In a recent op ed published in The Hill, The Arc’s Senior Director of Income and Housing Policy, T.J. Sutcliffe, and the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality’s co-executive director, Indivar Dutta-Gupta, wrote: “The House’s partisan approach and deep cuts to SNAP not only conflict with decades of bipartisan Congressional support for the program, but also are widely opposed. Using the Senate bill as a springboard, Congress should work in a bipartisan manner to produce a final bill that strengthens SNAP, rather than decimates it.” Visit The Hill to read the full op ed.

Income Support – Senate Approves Bipartisan Farm Bill

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed by a vote of 86 to 11 its version of the “Farm Bill” (Manager’s Amendment to the House version of the Farm Bill, H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018). The bill reauthorizes farm programs and policy as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It is a bipartisan bill that did not include cuts and other provisions that were contained in the House of Representative version of the bill. The next step will be a negotiation between the House and Senate to find a compromise between the two approaches. More than 11 million people with disabilities rely on SNAP to help put food on the table. For more information about The Arc’s position see our statement.

Miscellaneous News – White House Releases Major Government Restructuring Proposal

Last week, the White House announced a proposal to make major changes to the structure of government agencies. The most prominent change proposed is the merger of the Departments of Education and Labor. Additionally, the proposal moves non-commodity nutrition assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which would be renamed the Department of Health and Public Welfare. If legislation is introduced to make these changes, The Arc will assess the impact on programs critical to people with disabilities.