Lauren has a bright future. She graduated from her Indiana high school at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but she didn’t let that stop her from advancing her education. Currently, she is working towards an associate degree in animal science, her long-time passion. With only one class remaining, she is set to get her degree this year.
Currently, Lauren is living at home with her parents while she works part-time at a doggy daycare. As she has watched her siblings move out and settle into adult life, she has also been making plans of her own. She dreams of pursuing a veterinary technician degree, working in a veterinary clinic, living in her own home, having her own car to get around her rural Indiana community, spending time in nature, and even going on the occasional vacation.
Lauren’s plans are not uncommon, but they are difficult to achieve right now. Lauren receives Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI). SSI currently provides critical support to Lauren and nearly 8 million other adults and children with disabilities and older Americans. SSI helps people pay for their homes and food to eat. In most states, receiving SSI also means that people can get Medicaid. This is important because only Medicaid provides the services and supports many people with disabilities rely on.
Right now, outdated rules prevent people who get SSI from saving money, forcing them to live in poverty. Single people like Lauren who get SSI can only have $2,000 in assets and married people can only have $3,000 combined. Assets include money in bank accounts, retirement accounts, and other savings. In practice, because bank accounts often require a minimum balance, there is less money that can be used if needed. It also means that Lauren cannot save for a down payment for a home or a reliable car.
Lauren wants to be independent and achieve her goals. Even though she is young, she wants to plan for her retirement and make sure she has enough money for the future. The current SSI asset limit causes constant challenges and makes saving for everyday life and achieving her dreams feel out of reach.
“I have to constantly monitor the account to make sure I am not working too much so that I can keep all my benefits. The support is what makes it possible for me to work, but if I do work then I could lose the support. It makes it impossible to improve and try new things. I have not gone over the limit, but the low level does make it impossible to be responsible and save for larger purchases like a car or home of my own. I am stuck as a renter or with poor-quality transportation, and I am not able to plan for the future, like retirement—things that other people my age are able to do.”
Congress is currently considering a bill that would raise the amount of savings a person on SSI could keep. This is huge. It would be the first time in over 30 years that this limit would change. It would raise the limit from $2,000 to $10,000 for single people like Lauren, and it would increase from $3,000 to $20,000 for married couples who get SSI.
For Lauren, changing the asset limit would create new possibilities to enact her plans and achieve her dreams. She could save for a car to get around her rural community and set aside a little nest egg in case something unexpected happens.
Help Lauren and the 8 million others nationwide on SSI save for their future.