Recipients Face Penalties When They are Able to Work
The October 20, 2012 Opinion Pages of The New York Times highlighted the problems with the very rigid federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program.
“The Disability Trap” piece profiles 27 year old Brad Crelia who suffers from a blood disorder and is HIV positive relying on SSI.
The “trap” is that in addition to his $506 monthly SSI check, Crelia can only earn an additional $85 a month. If exceeds that, his monthly check is reduced $1 for every $2 he earns. Additionally, he can never have more than $2,000 in the bank.
And he is not alone, more than 8.7 million disabled Americans rely on the program. And while the program’s expenses rise, the economic status of disabled people declines. The program does not function as a safety net – 70% of disabled people live below poverty.
Advocates argue that SSI could be reformed similarly to the traditional welfare program. Recipients could be allowed to work and earn income as much as they can and then have a federal safety net program that would contribute tax credits to supplement that income.
Says Crelia, “
’I’ve been kept financially sort of in this cage. Just basic things that people rely upon, having a normal life, aren’t things that are really accessible. And won’t be.’”
Do you have tenants or clients you work with who face the same dilemma around their SSI benefits? Monarch Housing welcomes your comments on this issue.