Sen. Brown introduces bill to help social security beneficiaries negatively impacted by pandemic stimulus checks
While the pandemic stimulus checks came at a time where millions of people were hurt economically by the pandemic, it also hurt some Ohioans with Social Security benefits.
Now, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and others are urging the Social Security Administration (SSA) to reverse what they call outdated rules that prevent millions on social security from getting their benefits and punishes others for saving.
Specifically, Brown, along with Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, are pushing the SSA to provide additional information on the scope and magnitude of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries who had their benefits suspended and were assessed an overpayment due to receiving Economic Impact Payments (EIPs), causing them to exceed the SSI asset limit.
Brown has proposed a bill, called the SSI Savings Penalty Elimination Act, would raise the asset limit for the first time since 1984.
"We are deeply concerned that SSI beneficiaries are receiving overpayment notices in error, because SSA is not following its own determination to exclude EIPs stimulus checks from countable resources...Benefit suspensions and overpayment notices—regardless of the cause—can have a profound negative impact in their lives. Further, losing SSI eligibility risks a lengthy bureaucratic process to restore eligibility and also risks beneficiaries' access to Medicaid coverage," the senators wrote to SSA Acting Commissioner Dr. Kilolo Kijakazi.
Right now, individuals receiving SSI benefits are limited to $2,000 in assets; for married couples it's $3,000.
Brown's SSI Savings Penalty Elimination Act would raise those caps to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for married couples, and index them to inflation moving forward.
According to a news release from Sen. Brown's office, Between April 2020 and July 2021, EIPs were disregarded as countable resources for 12 months for purposes of SSI eligibility.
In 2021, SSA announced that EIPs would not be counted toward eligibility and payment amount for SSI purposes indefinitely. However, SSA suspended benefits and assessed overpayments to individuals receiving SSI benefits because of the stimulus payments.