We discussed some of the benefits and requirements of the Social Security supplemental security income program in our last post. SSI benefits differ from disability benefits in a variety of ways, namely that SSI beneficiaries do not have to have work histories and SSI beneficiaries can only have very few resources and assets. This means that the SSI program is a safety net for severely impoverished Portland residents.
SSI benefits are relatively small. The maximum SSI benefit for a Portland resident is $674 for a single person and $1,011 for a married Oregon couple. There are also many individuals who only qualify for SSI benefits under these maximum levels. The small SSI benefits that many people rely on can potentially shrink even more as many politicians wish to use a chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) to determine annual SSI benefit adjustments.
Some believe that using a chained CPI is more beneficial than using the CPI because the chained CPI supposedly reflects changes in consumer spending in results to price changes. The chained CPI can impact older SSI recipients the most. One in three seniors relies on Social Security for the vast majority of their income.
By some estimates, a chained CPI would cut an annual benefit of a person receiving benefits at 65 by $651 by age 75 and up to $1,212 by age 95. This will impact women more than men as women tend to live longer and tend to have fewer resources than men. Senior and disability advocates worry that a chained CPI will make our nation’s low benefit floor even lower for populations that will be greatly impacted by cuts.
Source: The Hill, “Social security “chained CPI” proposal threatens economic security,” Joan Kuriansky, Paul Nathanson, July 22, 2011