Raising SSI payments: Take Action to Lift California Seniors and Persons with Disabilities out of Poverty

In California, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), combined with the State Supplemental Payment (SSP) for food, is a program funded jointly by the Federal and State governments toprovide income support to seniors and people with disabilities. Low SSI/SSP grant levels leave many California seniors and people with disabilities struggling to meet their basic needs. Many find that after paying rent they have little, if anything, left for food, medical expenses, transportation and clothing, and can't afford to take care of basic needs like doing laundry or buying personal hygeine items. 

SSI/SSP has experienced cuts over the years, and the maximum grant for individuals is currently $910.72 per month, which is 90 percent of the federal poverty line. These cuts remain in place today and cause a great deal of hardship for approximately 6,000 Humboldt County seniors and people with disabilities, and a total of 1.5 million people across the state.

The status quo--keeping SSI/SSP grant levels the way they are--means keeping recipients in poverty with high risk of becoming houseless, hungry and in poor health. If legislation were enacted to raise SSI/SSP benefit amounts above the poverty line, it would lift 1.5 million California seniors and persons with disabilities out of poverty.

Impact on Hunger

  • Click here to learn more from the California Budget & Policy Center about the potential impact on SSI/SSP if federal cuts are made to this program.
  • California Budget Bites submitted this blog on the topic to the Sacramento Bee.
  • The California Budget and Policy Center published this fact sheet in March 2015 comparing current SSI/SSP grant levels to each California county's fair market rent for a studio apartment. The county-by-county list shows how little money is left for SSI recipients after paying rent. In addition, they published this fact sheet in March 2016, showing how SSI/SSP benefit levels are inadequate to cover the cost of rent and food for seniors and people with disabilities in California.

Take Action

Please consider supporting a proposal to help seniors and people with disabilities experiencing poverty in California by signing a petition asking state legislators and policymakers to increase SSI/SSP grant levels. (This is a statewide campaign, with the petition hosted by St. Anthony's in San Francisco.)

Share Their Stories

Visit the website of the advocacy group CA4SSI to learn about the advocacy group's work. Read, watch, and listen to stories about SSI recipients living on insufficient SSI benefits, and find out how to take action. Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB) put together a powerful series of "SSI Listening Sessions" #IfOnlyYouKnew videos, in which food bank clients talk about what it's like to be a senior or person with a disability in California, living on insufficient SSI benefits. Their personal stories are powerful and shared amongst SSI recipients all over the state. Learn more by viewing the clips below and visit ACCFB's webpage for their #IfOnlyYouKnew campaign for Hunger Action Month.

SSI Listening Sessions

SSI Listening Session
#IfOnlyYouKnew: Judy's Story
#IfOnlyYouKnew: Sharon and Beverly's Stories
#IfOnlyYouKnew: Carey's Story