NSCLC: Aging Committee Hearing Focuses on Senior Poverty; SSI Fixes Urged

From our colleagues at NSCLC: 

At a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing to spotlight senior poverty today, key witnesses advocated for updating the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program and other National Senior Citizens Law Center priorities.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) explored potential improvements to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program and Vice President and Director of Family Economic Security at the National Womens Law Center Joan Entmacher said that it was her understanding and hope that a bill would be introduced in the Senate shortly. She noted that a similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives last April that would update the program and change its “very complicated and harsh rules.”

“I would encourage people who say we need to do more about elderly poverty so let’s cut Social Security benefits for the middle class to start by fixing the program that we have that is an anti-poverty program for low-income elders and that’s SSI,” she said.

NSCLC submitted a written statement to the Committee entitled Senior Poverty; Action Needed to Address a Growing Problem and called for Congress to:

Strengthen the existing safety net upon which seniors rely and not cut Social Security benefits or increase Medicare cost-sharing.

  • Ms. Entmacher wrote in her testimony that “This Congress can secure and build on these gains by protecting and strengthening Social Security, SSI and other programs for vulnerable older Americans.”

Increase the availability of programs such as Medicaid, Medicare Savings Programs and the Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy.

  • Referring to these programs, Kaiser Family Foundation Senior Vice President Tricia Neuman noted in her testimony that “many low income seniors do not receive this additional assistance – either because they did not know about or apply for coverage, had savings and other assets that exceed the eligibility thresholds or attempted to apply but were deterred by the application process.”

Reauthorize the Older Americans Act.

  • Catholic Charities Maine Director of Hunger and Relief Services Dixie Shaw wrote in her testimony that “I also hope that programs like Meals on Wheels would be seen as the opportunity it can be to not only bring a warm meal, but a warm smile to a shut in who is unable to cook for themselves or get out to get adequate food.”

A powerful Kaiser Family Foundation video on senior poverty was shown at the hearing.

You can watch the hearing online and download written testimony by visiting the Senate Special Committee on Aging website. NSCLC thanks both Senators Nelson and Susan Collins (R-ME) for bringing attention to this important issue.

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  • LAAAC is managed by St. Barnabas Senior Services; Funded, in part, by Archstone Foundation.
  • St. Barnabas Senior Services

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