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The President’s Proposal to Cut a Core Social Security Program Will Destabilize Vulnerable Families

SSI

The President’s Proposal to Cut a Core Social Security Program Will Destabilize Vulnerable Families

Date Posted: 
05/23/2017

The President’s FY 2018 Budget proposes a sliding benefit cut to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for families where two or more family members, even children, receive SSI. SSI is a core Social Security program that provides vital monetary support to 8.3 million Americans, including 1.2 million children with severe disabilities and 4.8 million adults with severe disabilities, as well as seniors. SSI helps people meet basic needs including food, shelter and clothing.  Although the maximum monthly SSI payment is only $735 per person, and the average benefits is only $540 a month, these modest benefits are a lifesaver for struggling families trying to pay for basic needs and to meet the various financial obligations related to disabilities. A sliding cut to SSI benefits for families already coping with providing for multiple individuals with severe disabilities will cause great harm and instability to vulnerable people.

A SSI Sliding Cut Penalizes Families For Staying Together.

More than a million SSI recipients live in the same household as another SSI recipient.[1] Many of these recipients are from low-income homes where multiple family members, including two or more children, have severe disabilities. Cutting SSI for these families creates a penalty for keeping these families together.  This would be especially harmful for families where a parent who is elderly or has a disability lives in the same household as a child with a disability.  Asking severely disabled individuals to choose between receiving the life-sustaining benefits they need and staying with their family is contrary to traditional American values.  Such cuts may prevent families from caring for their family members with disabilities at home instead of at costly institutions.

A SSI Sliding Cut Would Hurt Families Raising Children with Disabilities.

Approximately 21% of families raising children with disabilities are raising multiple children with disabilities, and face significant financial challenges as a result.  These families must shoulder direct costs associated with raising children with disabilities including significant out-of-pocket disability related expenses (i.e. diapers and other needs), paying for transportation for medical visits, and specialized diets.  Many low-income parents also face indirect costs because they need to cut-back hours at work, forego a second job, or even lose their job in order to get their children to their appointments and therapies and provide them with the care they need. Studies show these families experience much higher rates of material hardship, including housing instability, missed meals, or utility shut-offs than other families.[2] SSI helps many families raise children with disabilities by offsetting some of the often significant expenses associated with raising children with disabilities. Even when the children suffer from similar diagnoses, it is highly unlikely the family benefits from an economy of scale because disability-related commodities such as therapies, diapers, special equipment or special diets cannot be shared between children.[3] Implementing a sliding cut in benefits would significantly harm families raising more than one child with a disability, and take necessary and life sustaining resources away from some of the most disadvantaged working families in the state.


[1] Joyce Nicolas, Prevalence, Characteristics, and Poverty Status of Supplemental Security Income Multirecipients, Social Security Bulletin, 73(3) (2013).

 

[2] S. Gosh, S. Parish, Prevalence and Economic Well-Being of Families Raising Multiple Children with Disabilities, Children and Youth Services Review 35 (2013) at 1437.

[3] S. Gosh, S. Parish, Prevalence and Economic Well-Being of Families Raising Multiple Children with Disabilities, Children and Youth Services Review 35 (2013) at 1431-32.