AB 1584, Cheryl Brown / Tony Thurmond

Increasing SSI/SSP Grants and COLA

What is AB 1584, and why do we need it? AB 1584 is an incremental step toward full restoration of recession-era cuts to the SSI/SSP program, a combination Federal/State program that awards monthly grants to over 1 million California seniors and other disabled adults who get no or minimal Social Security benefits. AB 1584 would establish a Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) as a permanent component to the SSI/SSP program, and would marginally increase individual grants for those living at home by $21 per month each year for the next four years, a total of $84/mo. increase after 4 years, bringing recipients from 91% of the poverty line back up to 100% of the poverty line.  This goes well beyond the Governor’s proposed smaller one-year increase in the State portion (SSP). California SSI/SSP has undergone shameful cuts during the recession years.   In 2009 the annual COLA was abolished. Since then, the state funded SSP portion of grants been cut from $233 a month to $156 a month today for individuals, and from $568 a month in January 2009 to $396.20 today for couples.  Since 2007, the SSI/SSP caseload has increased by some 75,000, yet the Governor plans this year to spend $1.4 billion less on SSI/SSP than was spent in 2007 in inflation-adjusted dollars. Low SSI/SSP is a big reason California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, by the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure. Over half of California's one million on SSI/SSP are women, many are becoming homeless. Moreover, California SSI/SSP recipients are not eligible for Food Stamps. California's budget is now running multi-billion dollar surpluses. Over 150 California advocacy organizations are demanding an increase in grants and restoration of the COLA for SSI/SSP recipients. AB 1584 will be amended to do two things: (1) it will provide annual grant increases to SSI recipients beginning with those recipients who are below the federal poverty level (basically individual recipients) and then once those individuals grants exceed the poverty level, grant increases will be provided for all SSI recipients. (2) The bill will provide grant increases to all individual recipients including persons receiving the restaurant meal allowance.  No one will be excluded.  AB 1584 Scheduled Hearing in on March 29th Human Services.