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Advocates Alarmed By Proposal To Tweak SSI


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A plan expected to be included in President Barack Obama’s budget proposal this week could change how Social Security benefits are calculated for people with disabilities.

Obama is reportedly set to include a proposal to change the way that annual cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security benefits are figured in the coming years. The plan — expected to be part of the budget road map the president is scheduled to release on Wednesday — is said to be a compromise in exchange for Republicans agreeing to new taxes in efforts to reduce the nation’s deficit.

The Social Security change known as “chained CPI” would have the effect of reducing the increases that Social Security and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries typically receive year-over-year to account for inflation.

The idea behind chained CPI is that people can make small sacrifices to account for rising costs, opting to buy hamburgers instead of steak, for example.

But disability advocates are lining up against the approach, saying that it does not properly account for the true situation facing many people with disabilities who rely on Social Security benefits to meet basic food and housing costs. In a letter sent to Obama late last year, more than three dozen national disability organizations asked the president to oppose a switch to chained CPI calling Social Security benefits “already very modest.”

“What we’re concerned about is that beneficiaries would be forced to make very painful decisions, choosing to take medications or buy that bag of groceries,” said T.J. Sutcliffe, a policy advocate at The Arc. “Cuts (under chained CPI) are cumulative so they start out low, but they add up quickly.”

Under chained CPI, Sutcliffe said that beneficiaries would likely see a 0.3 percent reduction to their cost-of-living adjustment on average in the first year as compared to the current method of calculation. Over about 30 years, the change would mean that a beneficiary would lose about one month’s worth of benefits, she said.

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Comments (31 Responses)

  1. Carolyn says:

    Tweek SSI? How about “Tweeking” your benefits and retirement packages for federal level politicians who we are paying millions for to millionaires in the first place on the majority. Oh then Mr. President perhaps you could also try living below poverty level in a life where you are likely to be victimized to begin with at a rate of two to one. Folks take ACTION. Get involved. Your child’s quality of life will depend on it.

  2. Hank Bennett says:

    This is appalling! For the “crime” of being disabled, SSI recipients are already sentenced to live on an income that is only about 75% of the federal poverty level. Now even that is about to be reduced by use of the Chained CPI! I’m with Carolyn – let’s put President Obama and Congress on SSI and Medicaid for at least a year and see how well they do!

  3. Bonnie Turner says:

    This is awful. I’d like to see Pres. Obama live on what I get and what my daughter gets. It’s barely enough to live on. For me, this year the medicare premium went up again and the cost of living increase in my SSDI almost equaled – it actually meant that I got about $4 more a month. My daughter has to live on SSI. I am her payee and sometimes I have to supplement her income to cover some needed items which is difficult for me to do. Near the end of 2012, I had to only take one of my meds instead of 2 per day since I was close to the coverage gap. That one medication was costing me $96 per month and there were some months when I couldn’t afford it. Every cent we get is necessary for us to survive, so when you change the rules and it means we are getting less, that is terrible. We are not living high on the hog with the Social Security amounts that we get.

  4. 2ontheSpectrum says:

    I am so disappointed with President Obama right now. He had the power to insist DHHS include evidence based therapies in the Affordable Care Act, but did nothing. Now each state is able to decide if they will demand that coverage from insurance providers and everything is still so unfair for people with disabilities! And now this! It really irks me that President Obama is willing to sacrafice the weakest citizens in our society to the budget crazies in the House!

  5. JohnWV says:

    Social Security is basically not an entitlement program. While working, we pay into the SS Fund. When we’re old the SS Fund, like insurance, pays us. Entitlement programs serve essential interests of their recipients and of all Americans. But when considering cuts, the Social Security commitment does not reasonably conflate with entitlements.

  6. Wayne says:

    This is this President’s method of operation: take out his frustration over not getting his way on tax increases by hurting those who can least afford reductions in spending. Don’t be fooled. Help make a case for the President to reduce spending somewhere else in his budget. For instance, reducing or eliminating congressional pensions, reducing this bloated government he has built or perhaps fewer weekly Presidential golf trips or less extravagant “vacations”. I’ve certainly had to reduce my vacation plans. How about you?

  7. Linda Ford says:

    There has to be another way for President Obama to get what he wants without sacrificing Social Security benefits for anyone. I was a Special Ed Teacher and worked with many families trying to get help for them. People do not understand what it takes to raise a child with a disability. My mom is not disabled but she is barely “making” it on social security.

    Thank you for letting me rant.

  8. carol says:

    Why not focus on the people having multiple children not working and getting hundreds in housing and food costs, while sitting on the butts doing nothing for themselves or their children. BUT MAKING MORE AND THEN GETTING MORE from the GOVERNMENT from hardworking people like myself. This really sucks!

  9. margaret campbell says:

    Already SSI and ssda are linked. If you get a raise in ssda, SSI is reduced. If you lose SSI in Calif. you lose MedCal benefits. No MediCal means no Arc, no respite, and many medications are not covered. My daughter was disabled at birth. She is 24 now. Her SSI is only $68. & change. Her ssda is $553. So tell me how that equates to curs? Mercy! Ihsa is also dependant on qualifying for these two benefits. We struggle for everything and I work. I am 60, my husband is 70 and disabled. It is less expensive for me to insure him than for him to pay for Medicare. So what happens when I can no longer work. After deductions, my MONTHLY PAYCHECK is $730. & change. Someone please give Obama a stiff kick of reality! Steak or hamburger? We cannot afford either! No, we do not receive food stamps either. I work. I want to work. But how long can I ? Blessings all. We are unfortunately NOT all in this together. How about congress, judicial, and executive branches raking cyrs, less vacation spending, smaller expense accounts. We have not had a vacation in 11 years and have not gone to dinner (Denny’s or home town buffet) since our daughter was 8 years old!

  10. margaret campbell says:

    Sorry for type I’d. “cuts” ,”ihss”. Yes, this strikes me and mine in the face.=[

  11. CARLEE says:

    wow. i’ve never seen someone on SSI eating a steak.

  12. Teresa Roberts says:

    Cut again? Tweak? Cut the pay to congress or their benefits. Cut the aid to countries that really don’t need it. Our people are suffering, too. Employ more people to prevent medicaid fraud. How many vacations has
    our President taken? It’s pathetic how many people in our own country lack medical insurance, go hungry, and everything will change in 2014?

  13. Rosella A. Alm says:

    If the president ever did any elementary research on the subject of Supplementary Security Income (SSI) for people with disabilities he would realize that the income is minimal. In areas where rents are high, it’s unlikely that an SSI recipient has had a steak dinner in recent memory. Chained CPI is a rip-off of the poorest and most vulnerable among us.

  14. jose says:

    when president Obama was elected we the parents of a autistic son cried of joy , now with this news we are going to cry thinking what will happen to our son when we are not any longer in this world ( we do not want to think what a republican president could do) excuse my english.

  15. marie camp says:

    What else are they going to cut ? I believe Congress is really messing with peoples lives. I wish they could change roles with us and take a real hard look at our life. As Americans we elect who will do the best job and unfortunately they become greedy and selfish. So it is our job to keep advocating and be strong.

  16. Barbara Sorensen says:

    Let’s be clear about the politicians who are demanding these cuts from those least able to pay: those POLITICIANS who ascribe to the Grover Norquist “we don’t believe in government” pledge. These squeaky wheels are driving the debate, they will give up nothing, no taxes for the corporations, many of whom pay nothing and they hold us hostage as well as the President. While the President’s proposals are disappointing, PLEASE, PEOPLE, LOOK AT THE BULLY POLITICAL FORCES WHO ARE THE REAL VILLAINS. The talking heads of FOX news whose goal is to destroy the middle class, along with a Congress who is sequestering and fiddling while Rome burns. They are traitors, plain and simple.

  17. Debbie Miller says:

    hamburger vs steak —- try potted meat vs ramen noodles –

  18. Scott Lederman says:

    This is a disgrace. We re-elected this president so he would NOT do the very things he is doing. The politicians couldn’t care less about the disabled and elderly. Meanwhile the 1% continue to rack in millions in tax loop holes and off shore accounts, while the rest of us need to decide whether to eat or buy needed medication. President Obama, you are a great disappointment since you are showing your true colors.. as a typical politician interested in appeasing the interest groups that run this Congress and now your office.

  19. Kathy Holmes Williams says:

    Wow…once again it seems that the sacrificial lambs, the elderly and the disabled are being forced to make sacrifices that they cannot afford. I would love to see just once in my lifetime, the people in power who make these decisions with little regard for those who will suffer the most, could experience the ramifications of their decisions. Do any of them have elderly or anyone disabled who depend on these benefits…who is advising them…anyone doing REAL research??????? Some of those affected cannot even make their own decisions. Call me or any of the others this will affect and I guarantee we can provide needed information.

  20. Debra says:

    If we didn’t have to spend so much of our time and energy fighting and worrying about how to maintain our benefits, maybe more people with disabilities would feel well enough to work to earn money. This would make us less reliant on the government. I know that the stress of worrying about losing my benefits and healthcare coverage has had a significant negative impact. I won’t even take the cholesterol medicine that my doctor wants to prescribe because I know that at some point I won’t be able to afford it.

  21. Whitney says:

    I would actually love to see all the Congress live Social Security for year or duration of the term in office. Then may be they will understand the common people better.

  22. mom of TS child says:

    What’s going on is that,people that really need the SSI are suffering.And there are people that are good in health are out there making believe that they can’t work (back pain,leg pain, whatever they can pretend about that’s hurting) are getting away with collecting SSI,when they really don’t need it,and should get there a____s to work!!!! SS personel are really blind and need to wake up!!!

  23. Karen C says:

    Tweek SSD recipients are already living below what is considered federal level income. Recently, my Medicare Part D was cut and i’m required to pay $500 deductable! Where is the $500 gonna come from?. Since 1999 through 2013 and have received approximately $200 increase. How do we make it, rent increases every year, grocery prices climbing every year, gasoline, utilities, clothing all of these bare essentials are rising but not the income. Can’t get Section 8 or low income housing …. do we dig our own hole and bury ourselves. Somethings gotta give.

  24. Dannielle says:

    This is awful.” Can anyone tell me, why do these politicians take from the poor and disabled
    when trying to balance their check books? These are our, children, mothers, fathers, husbands, wife’s
    grandparents. War veteran come home, having to fight their own government for health care to address
    injuries they sustained on the job.”People must organize, are the Government will organize us.

  25. Hope says:

    Who eats steak? And could someone tell me what a vacation is?!

  26. Charlemo says:

    They already ‘tweek’ their numbers. Does anyone remember the ’90s when housing costs were going up over 6% every year and the administration said that housing costs were not considered as a part of inflation for determining COLA adjustments for SSI? Then when the housing market went into freefall our President said in 2009 there was no inflation because of the fall in property values. For two years there was no COLA for SSI benefits. Has anyone noticed that the price of gasoline has almost doubled with absolutely no impact on the CPI. They have a saying south of the border. “CACA DEL TORO”

  27. Peter says:

    I’m 24 and disabled…I only make 730 a month…That isn’t enough to rent an apartment, I could never afford first, last and security. I live in a city where disabled living is also elderly living, so the elderly come first. So now I’m homeless and hopping from friend to friend to keep myself alive. So here’s the break down…300 to stay with someone a month (400 if i’m unlucky) 50 for the cheapest cell phone in my area so I can look for a place to stay, and call for help if I need help. 73 for my car insurance, i feel if I don’t pay for it, it will cost me a shit ton more to re insure it. about 100 for meds because no one wants to let a crazy person into their home. then its 150 -200 for daily transport and expenses like bus or cab and toilet paper, shaving razors, and soap/ laundry. Thank god for 60 F-ing dollars transitional assistance gives homeless ppl a month…I literally don’t understand how I’m still alive as it is…any kind of drop in SSI or SSDI would cripple me…and I’m sure there are ppl worse of than me.

  28. Dee Smith says:

    I don’t know anyone on SSI who eats steak. We go to food banks for what I consider to be very unhealthy food. I’m not kidding about the toilet paper. I can’t afford to purchase it or OTC drugs. Now I have to deal with paying for cuts breaks for the wealthy? When SSI was first implicated it was supposed to give dignity to senior citizens over the age of 65, as well as the disabled, and other poor persons that fit the service. Our lives are anything but dignified. At age 75 I dig through trash cans for redeemable recyclables and shop only at the 99 cent stores and am always worried about my car breaking down. I have to give up household essentials like furniture to pay my car insurance and for gas to take me to the doctors and shopping. I have not had new shoes in ten years! I wear my clothes until they fall off my back. I can not afford dentistry. Where is the dignity? Every time I’m re-certified the questionnaire treats me like a criminal. The interviews are plain scary and the communications I receive from SSI are always threatening to throw me off the program if I don’t, for instance, answer the phone on a certain date at a certain time. OK – what if my phone service which is attached to a modem is down that day? I lose my income? I have to live in the street? Why are they always so rude and unsmiling? Now this chained CPI. What next? I’m left thinking that SSI tries to dehumanize its clients in order to make them commit suicide but that aint gonna happen. We’re not going to cut our lives short on account giving SSI a break. We have rights! Give us back the dignity SSI promised to give us when it was first implemented!

  29. Gary says:

    Just another way the rich can get another raise.

  30. joe says:

    That’s great. Go after people who can barely afford to eat while the top 1% get richer and richer. Maybe the billionaires could do with one less yacht instead of asking people to decide between food or medication. It’s a disgrace.

  31. Angela Febles says:

    The money changes from one purse to the other will only creat more problems for longterm care. For example CPI cuts will force people to choose between “a steak or a hamburger.” Eating habits alone are not healthy in America and once again we choose to remove healthy food options due to poverty. The end results will be increase medical cost in health dollars. There has to be another option.

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