Leading Latino Organizations Celebrate Birthday of SSI & Call for Program to be Updated and Strengthened
SSI CRITICAL TO LATINO ELDERLY, BUT PROGRAM IN NEED OF IMPROVEMENTS
October 31, 2012
Contact: Paloma Zuleta
Washington, DC – The Latinos for a Secure Retirement coalition (LSR) has joined the National Senior Citizen Law Center (NSCLC) to call for needed updates to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSI was signed into law 40 years ago on Oct. 30th, 1972 by President Richard Nixon to provide subsistence-level income to low income people over the age of 65 or with severe disabilities.
“SSI has been a critical program to low-income Latinos for the past 40 years but needs to be strengthened,” stated Jeff Cruz, Executive Director of Latinos for a Secure Retirement, a coalition of ten leading national Latino organizations. “Outdated rules have put many poor seniors in peril.”
Over 8 million Americas rely on SSI for survival. In most of the country the maximum benefit is $698 a month and a beneficiary cannot generally have more than $718 total income a month, including the SSI benefit. A beneficiary also cannot have more than $2,000 in non-exempt resources. SSI is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) but funded through general revenue. One out of every three older SSI applicants has a primary language other than English, with the overwhelming majority of these Spanish speaking.
“Low income Latino seniors and disabled depend on SSI,” said Hector Sanchez, chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) and Executive Director for the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA). “Next week Latinos will vote in record numbers and we need to ensure our leaders are committed to programs like SSI that help our most vulnerable.”
Among the recommendations include expanding benefits, increasing eligibility for refugees and Cuban-Haitian entrants, adopting the CPI-E to calculate the Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA), and updating eligibility requirements to reflect inflation.
“Benefits like SSI are desperately needed by folks with mental and physical disabilities in order to have the basic necessities to survive," said Executive Director of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Brent Wilkes. "Every dollar invested in SSI works its way back to the economy because those very people rely on these benefits for their daily needs."
The coalition also recommended Congress to provide at least $12.3 billion in administrative funding for SSA in FY14 to help the agency better serve SSI recipients. “The Social Security Administration plays a vital role with helping the Latino community understand the program and their benefits,” said Ignacio Salazar, the president and CEO of SER- Jobs for Progress National. “Additional funding is needed to ensure Americans can access to their benefits.”
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For more information about the Latinos for Secure Retirement coalition, please visit www.latinosforasecureretirement.org.
For more information on LSR Coalition members, please visit:
- League of United Latin American Citizens, www.lulac.org
- Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, www.lclaa.org
- The Hispanic Federation, www.hispanicfederation.org
- The National Hispanic Council on Aging, www.nhcoa.org
- MANA, A National Latina Organization, www.hermana.org
- SER- Jobs for Progress National, Inc., www.ser-national.org
- Institute for the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly, www.iprhe.org
- American GI Forum, www.agifusa.org
- National Association for Hispanic Elderly, www.anppm.org
- National Hispanic Medical Association, www.nhmamd.org