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Update: Changes to Social Security benefits won't affect SSI

Last week we discussed possible changes in Social Security benefits that could negatively impact families in New York who rely on Supplemental Security Income. The potential changes were suspected to be part of the president's budget proposal. He proposed changing the way Social Security benefits are adjusted annually with inflation. In a system known as chained CPI, those receiving benefits would receive smaller increases each year, leaving some who rely on programs like Social Security Disability Insurance and SSI worried.

Fortunately, however, the president's plans have been clarified. He said he is willing to make some changes to the Social Security retirement program, but not to programs like SSI. He said any changes must "contain protections for the most vulnerable Americans."

Despite the good news for SSI recipients, disability advocates are still calling upon lawmakers to do away with the idea of chained CPI altogether. Although SSI would be spared, the Disabled Adult Child program would not be. The Disabled Adult Child program allows some adults who have been disabled since they were children to collect Social Security benefits -- paid based on a parent's earnings record -- after a parent dies. According to The Arc's director of public policy, more than a million people rely on income from the Disabled Adult Child program.

While sparing SSI from budget cuts is a victory for sure, it's important that lawmakers take the time to fully understand the impact chained CPI could have on everyone who might be affected by it. Those who have no other way to survive than relying on government benefits should not be targeted for budget cuts. Hopefully lawmakers will find a way to ensure that these individuals are protected.

Source: Disability Scoop, "Obama Budget Spares SSI Benefits," Michelle Diament, April 11, 2013

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