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Sherrod Brown Wants To Expand Supplemental Security Income For First Time Since 1980s

Sherrod Brown
Nick Castele
Senator Sherrod Brown is calling for an expansion of Supplemental Security Income for those who qualify. He said aspects of the SSI program haven’t been updated since the 1980s.

As Congress continues to debate the budget, Ohio's Senator Sherrod Brown is calling for an expansion of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for those who qualify.

Brown said 300,000 Ohioans are beneficiaries of SSI. For 60% of recipients, SSI is their only source of income, and Brown said the average yearly benefit in Ohio is under $7,000.

The program only allows recipients to own assets up to $2,000, and Brown said for those who go over that, the program penalizes them.

“If they have even one dollar more than that in a savings account or $3,000 for a couple, all their SSI benefits are taken away,” Brown said. “As if someone could live off the $2,000.”

Brown said aspects of the SSI program, such as the $2,000 asset limit, haven’t been updated since the 1980s. Brown wants to raise that limit to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for couples as part of legislation he authored called the SSI Restoration Act.

When SSI recipients go over the asset limit, such as with a savings account that gains value, Brown said the SSI program takes their benefits away. He said this amounts to a punishment for being financially responsible.

“We shouldn’t punish Ohioans who do the right thing and save money for emergencies by taking away the money they rely on to live,” the senator said.

The SSI Restoration Act does not currently have any Republican co-sponsors, but Brown said that in a hearing yesterday, two Republicans on the finance subcommittee he chairs showed support for some of the act’s provisions. He's pushing for his proposal to be part of President Biden’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.

In a teleconference on Wednesday, Brown also spoke about the need to pass a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown. He said a shutdown would cause multiple problems, including veterans losing their benefits, social security checks getting delayed and interest rates going up.

He said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is playing a partisan exercise in an effort to retake power.

“This is playing with real human lives,” Brown said. “It’s why Democrats stepped up and worked with him and Trump and Speaker Ryan -- all Republicans -- to pay our bills three, four years ago and it’s why McConnell should do it now.”