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Obama Budget Spares SSI Benefits


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Changes to the way Supplemental Security Income benefits for people with disabilities are calculated appear to be off the table — for the moment, at least.

White House officials said Wednesday that a proposal to adjust the way that cost-of-living increases are determined for Social Security benefits would exempt SSI and a handful of other programs.

The plan to switch to a formula known as chained CPI to account for inflation in calculating benefits was included in President Barack Obama’s budget proposal intended as a compromise in exchange for Republicans agreeing to tax hikes. But Obama administration officials said that SSI and other means-tested benefits would not be affected.

“I don’t believe that all these ideas are optimal, but I’m willing to accept them as part of a compromise — if, and only if, they contain protections for the most vulnerable Americans,” Obama said of the deal he’s offered in his budget plan.

Under the proposal, Social Security retirement benefits would be up for discussion but Obama said he would not agree to switch to chained CPI on federal programs like SSI and food stamps.

Chained CPI relies on the idea that people can make small sacrifices to account for cost-of-living increases, selecting to buy bologna or hamburgers instead of steak, for example. If programs are tacked to the method, it would mean lower benefit increases year-over-year.

Advocates for people with disabilities have long been concerned by proposals to switch to chained CPI arguing that many people with disabilities have no room in their budgets for even small cutbacks.

Despite the news that Obama is not proposing changes to SSI, Marty Ford, director of the public policy office at The Arc, said that talk of chained CPI remains worrisome. In particular, she said the proposal still affects the more than one million adults with lifelong disabilities who draw on Social Security benefits through the Disabled Adult Child program, which helps individuals with disabilities whose parents are receiving disability or retirement benefits and after their parent has died.

Under the Obama budget plan, annual increases to beneficiaries of the Disabled Adult Child program would be determined using chained CPI with extra adjustments at the tenth and twenty-fifth years that people draw on the program.

“We have no choice but to continue to call on policymakers to reject the chained CPI,” Ford said.

Beyond Social Security, Obama’s budget calls for repealing the across the board spending cuts implemented under sequestration. Special education funding would remain largely flat under the plan, while vocational rehabilitation would increase by $71.1 million. The president also wants to increase funding for housing for people with disabilities by $20 million.

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Comments (6 Responses)

  1. Jack Lancellotta says:

    It’s heartening to realize President Obama is ‘taking off the table’, the SSI and Food Stamp Programs (means-tested) for consideration with the CHAINED CPI model.

    We have to realize that for the most part, SSI recipients – for no valid reason of their own – have been displaced with DISABILITIES (even more than the Food Stamp recipient) and are relying on 1988/89 prices (cost-of-living prices) with their means-tested qualifications.

    The Congress and President should immediately place legislation in the hopper to alleviate the scourging limited assets resources of the SSI Program and institute a more modern, upgraded and realistic revamping of the SSI rules similar to the SSI SAVERS ACT.

    All the President and each Congressperson / Senator has to ask themselves – ” DO I WANT TO BECOME DISABLED AND LIVE ON SSI …”????

  2. Kh Williams says:


  3. Briana says:

    This concerns me a little, but I am trying to get into some app development to as least supplement my income. It’s not strenuous, and Google Play registration is CHEAP. You can also publish e-books there, so I might try some of that too, It would suck if he changes things a lot. My dad worked his whole life for these benefits and dying at 55, never got to use them himself. Now Ohblahblah only cares about his little plan and no one else.

  4. Mary G Quan says:

    I find it heart renching that people on SSI have been denied food stamps because they receive federal government aid. There had been no increase in SSI payments for years in California and I do not understand how that is acceptable when COLA was considered in all other areas of Social Security benefits. I am not sure people on SSI are even aware of COLA increases. I had been on SSI since 2008 and received no increase in monthly payments. $845 across the board in California is maximum payment I was told. Either state is skipping SSI recipients or I cannot understand what read which I doubt since I have a Masters degree in Nursing. Can anyone tell me if I am interpreting correctly? Thankyou

  5. Maria pedraza says:

    I am a ssi/ ssd recipient & I have found myself more confused with this change in how our payments are given to us cause I have seen a cut on my benefits & like many of us living & depending on our benefits, they are very limited,food prices are sky high & rent are also so high so @ a time where everything seems to be going up how can we afford to live with these cuts, it has come to where I have to decide whether to pay my bills or buy food, so please help me to understand these changes

  6. todd morris says:

    I think ssi benefits should be increased to $2000.00 dollars a month because the cost of living is too high along with housing rent.To pay for this I suggest a TV telethon that raises money for the poor.I also suggest a unlimited amount of snap money on cards for exchange for work by disabled.I think President Obama should create work from home jobs for corporations who needs stuff assembled at disabled persons home.This will strengthen economy to a point where there is boom without end.

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