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Ease SSI Savings Penalty, AARP Tells Congress

En español | AARP and other advocacy groups urged Congress this week to pass legislation to raise the limit on the amount of money people can have in their savings and other accounts while receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

Nearly 7.5 million Americans — including 2.4 million who are 65 and older — receive assistance through SSI, the government’s financial safety net program for Americans who are older, blind or disabled and have very low incomes.

Under current rules, individuals receiving the benefits are only allowed to have $2,000 in financial assets (such as savings or checking accounts) and married couples can have only $3,000 — limits set by Congress more than 30 years ago.

AARP was among a dozen advocacy groups, led by Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Niskanen Center, that raised concerns about the limits in a Jan. 8 letter to congressional leaders. The letter noted that the outdated asset limits “discourage millions of Americans from saving, working and practicing good financial habits.”

The SSI Savings Penalty Elimination Act would raise those limits to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for married couples, and tie future increases to inflation.

“Federal assistance for disabled and elderly Americans should ensure recipients’ basic dignity and ability to live a fulfilling life, not punish financial responsibility or forming a family,” the letter said. “We urge you and your colleagues to quickly pass the SSI Savings Penalty Elimination Act and remove government-imposed barriers to success, saving and well-being.”

AARP endorsed the bipartisan legislation in September, saying the asset limits “prevent the accumulation of even the smallest amount of personal savings” for unforeseen circumstances.

Read the letter and learn more about SSI benefits.

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