Bill To Update Disability Benefits Wins Crucial Republican Co-sponsor

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has won a cardinal Republican state successful his quest to amended 1 of the astir outdated societal payment programs successful the United States.

This week, Brown joined forces with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to denote their co-sponsorship of a measure updating the Supplemental Security Income program, which provides benefits to astir 8 cardinal Americans with disabilities.

The programme pays little than $700 per period for the mean recipient gathering its strict eligibility criteria, which see a request that recipients person little than $2,000 successful their slope accounts astatine each times. The Brown-Portman measure, called the SSI Savings Penalty Elimination Act, would boost the plus bounds from $2,000 to $10,000 for individuals and peg the bounds to inflation.

In a statement, Portman noted that terms ostentation has peculiarly harmed low-income Americans.

“Yet the Supplemental Security Income programme that serves these susceptible populations hasn’t been updated successful decades and punishes them for trying to prevention responsibly,” helium said.

Steve Senti, a 62-year-old successful Washington, Illinois, said helium has received $737 per period successful SSI payments since 2014. When helium received stimulus checks for $1,200, $600 and $1,400 — which Congress authorized successful effect to the coronavirus pandemic — helium rushed to get the wealth retired of his slope account.

“I would person loved to person conscionable near that wealth successful the slope for an exigency oregon something,” Senti told HuffPost. “I ended up taking it retired and spending it. I deliberation I went to a barroom and spent immoderate of it connected a poker machine.”

Under national law, stimulus checks were not expected to number toward the $2,000 limit, but ineligible assistance attorneys said past twelvemonth that the Social Security Administration mistakenly penalized immoderate recipients for having much than $2,000.

If the Brown-Portman measure were enacted, it would beryllium the archetypal alteration to the plus regularisation since 1989.

“I would person loved to person conscionable near that wealth successful the slope for an exigency oregon something. I ended up taking it retired and spending it.”

- Steve Senti, 62

Getting the alteration into law, however, volition beryllium nary casual task. Brown attempted unsuccessfully to hitch the measure to a large societal spending measure Democrats tried to constitute past year, but Democrats omitted the connection adjacent earlier the measure collapsed. Its $8 cardinal outgo is comparatively small, but not precisely chump change, fixed existent attitudes toward spending connected Capitol Hill.

Having a Republican connected committee makes transition a spot much plausible. Brown and Portman said they would effort to connect their measure to bigger pieces of authorities Congress whitethorn walk successful the coming weeks.

Portman suggested the measurement would request to beryllium approved archetypal by the Senate Finance Committee, but said possibly it could drawback a thrust connected a broader bill.

“I accidental that’s possible,” Portman said.

One crushed Republicans mightiness favour the alteration is that, arsenic it stands, Supplemental Security Income’s plus bounds has a “marriage penalty.” The plus bounds is $2,000 for an idiosyncratic and $3,000 for a joined couple, meaning a disabled mates that isn’t joined tin person $1,000 much successful their slope accounts than a joined mates could.

“The matrimony punishment successful SSI is precise clear,” Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who asked astir the punishment during a Senate Finance Committee proceeding past year, told reporters connected Wednesday.

The Brown-Portman measure would boost the bounds to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for joined couples, eliminating the matrimony penalty. Lankford said helium would request to spot the bill’s text, but that helium had been funny successful addressing the punishment for years.

Brown has pushed to boost SSI’s meager benefits and limitations connected earned income arsenic portion of a broader measure but said helium would instrumentality what helium tin get successful concern with Portman.

“We bash a batch of worldly unneurotic and we don’t hold connected a batch of things,” Brown told HuffPost. “But this 1 is an important archetypal step. It’s not astir arsenic overmuch arsenic I privation to bash ultimately, but we’ll instrumentality steps astatine a time.”

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