A federal agency is calling on the president to raise the asset limit imposed on people with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income for the first time in decades.

In a letter to President Barack Obama this week, the chair of the National Council on Disability, Jeff Rosen, said significant updates to the SSI program are needed.

Currently, individuals receiving SSI benefits can have no more than $2,000 to their name at any given time, a limit that’s been in place since 1989. The council is asking the president to increase the amount to $10,000 with allowances for the figure to continue to rise with inflation. Additionally, the agency wants to see adjustments made to the way that SSI benefits are impacted when an individual earns money from a job, for example.

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“SSI beneficiaries face the most severe levels of poverty of any group of Social Security beneficiaries,” Rosen wrote on behalf of the council, an independent federal agency charged with advising Congress and the president on disability issues. “We urge you to incorporate common-sense program reforms to SSI designed to improve beneficiary well-being and enhance the ability of SSI beneficiaries to participate in the workforce.”

The need for change is particularly urgent, Rosen said, with individuals who have disabilities disproportionately impacted by the sequester and other federal budget cuts.

“It is vital that current law be altered to allow SSI beneficiaries to save in order to blunt the impact of current and future cuts,” he wrote, calling the reforms “long overdue.”

Beyond SSI, the National Council on Disability also urged Obama to make it easier for people with disabilities to keep Medicaid coverage even as their income rises or if they move across state lines.

White House officials did not respond to requests for comment on the recommendations.

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