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Supplemental Security Income bill making its way through Congress

If you are someone in Wisconsin who qualifies for Social Security Income, or SSI, you may be wondering how you could ever save for retirement or a rainy day. It appears that others have also thought of this issue.

A bill is making its way through Congress that would encourage people to save for the future without jeopardizing their SSI. The House of Representatives bill (H.R. 2103) is known as the SSI SAVERS Act. It has bipartisan support and is sponsored by Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (Democrat, Massachusetts) and Representative Thomas Petri (Republican, Wisconsin).

Under current rules a person is not eligible for SSI until they have spent down their savings. This can be problematic for young people who are disabled and who may not have much in the way of savings to start out. Perhaps they have a small death benefit from a relative, or other cash amounting to perhaps $3,000. Under current rules, this could disqualify them.

Anyone who is making a rent payment and buying groceries understands that a few thousand dollars is not a lot of cushion for emergencies. The SSI SAVERS Act seeks to remedy this situation with a few important changes.

  • People 65 years of age or older would be allowed to keep up to $50,000 in savings and still qualify for SSI at a reduced level, rather than being cut off completely.
  • People younger than age 65 would be allowed to save money in a retirement account or education savings account without having it count against their qualifying SSI amount.

Younger workers would not be penalized for taking an extra part-time job in order to get ahead in the world, and retirement age workers would need less emergency help if they could keep more of their savings.

The SSI SAVERS Act is reportedly budget neutral.

Source: Providence Business News, "SSI SAVERS Act & The Disabled Citizen | Initiative," July 23, 2012

Our La Crosse law firm represents individuals such as those mentioned in this post that may be applying for SSI benefits or appealing SSI denials.

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