Rebecca Vallas, Distinguished Fellow, National Academy of Social Insurance

Historic Bipartisan Momentum for Updating SSI’s Antiquated Asset Limits

Signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1972, Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, provides monthly cash assistance to people with significant disabilities or who are 65 or older and who have very little in income and assets – including more than 1 million disabled children. The income support that SSI provides is nothing short of critical for the roughly 8 million disabled and older Americans currently receiving benefits. But due to decades of federal neglect, SSI’s income protections have withered over time — and the program now consigns millions of disabled people and older adults to deep and enduring poverty, despite the fact that it was enacted to give them a lifeline out of it.

One of SSI’s most outdated rules is its asset limits, which have remained stuck at $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples since Congress last adjusted them for inflation in 1984. These levels have lost nearly all of their value in the nearly four decades since they were last adjusted; had they been indexed to inflation when SSI was initially signed into law in 1972, for example, they would be more than $10,000 and $16,000, respectively, today. Now, more than fifty years after the SSI program’s founding, bipartisan policymakers and stakeholders are working to reform its antiquated asset limits, in recognition that they have become one of the most regressive anti-savings measures in federal law.

This resource page contains information and resources on current legislation being debated in Congress to update SSI’s asset limits, as well as a range of related resources from bipartisan experts and cross-sector stakeholders for Academy members, partners, and others seeking to learn more about this issue. For more information, contact Rebecca Vallas

Bipartisan legislation would update SSI’s asset limits

Bipartisan legislation led by Senators Sherrod Brown (D–OH) and Bill Cassidy (R–LA), and Representatives Brian Higgins (D–NY), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R–PA)—the SSI Savings Penalty Elimination Act—would update SSI’s asset limits to $10,000 for an individual and $20,000 for a couple, to ensure the program’s beneficiaries are able to build modest savings without losing survival income and health insurance. The legislation would also remedy Congress’s original error, by indexing the limits to the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W), to ensure they keep pace with inflation moving forward.

Learn more:

Who supports updating SSI’s asset limits?

Updating SSI’s asset limits has the support of economic policy experts across the political spectrum, as well as disability advocates, advocates for older adults, antipoverty advocates, social service providers, faith groups, corporate leaders, and a broad array of stakeholders. The CEOs of eight of the nation’s largest banks voiced their support for updating SSI’s asset limits in a recent hearing convened by the Senate Banking Committee. And it’s supported by more than 7 in 10 Americans, with widespread support across party lines.

Here’s what policy experts and stakeholders are saying:

Who would be helped by updating SSI’s asset limits?

Here’s what SSI beneficiaries are saying:

  • Emily shared why SSI asset limits need to be updated during a press conference about the SSI Savings Penalty Elimination Act.
  • Steve shared why SSI is important to him.
  • Lauren shared how SSI asset limits make it harder for her to live on her own and save like her peers.
  • Steve shared how SSI asset limits have been a barrier to work and savings.


  1. Lanette Nelson May 26, 2024 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    Not only is the asset limit outdated, but SSI recipients have been penalized for the Federal Stimulus payments they received during the pandemic, after being assured this would not happen. My sister is currently having to pay back $1600 in SSI (4 months of benefits) because her bank account was over $2000 four months in 2021, after she received the $1400 stimulus payment. She told them it was because of the stimulus but they ignored her and penalized her anyway. This goes against their own rules, but she was afraid to appeal their decision. This is so unfair.

  2. April June 3, 2024 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Good Day, I hope you get this message. What can the average elder do to help pass this law? (The Restoration S.S.I. Act) Many, like myself, were busy helping raise children, (unmarried) and did menial jobs to get by while at the same time trying to survive the collapse of 1971, 1981 then in 1991, and then 2008. Now, “We” are elderly citizens- baby boomers; who unfortunately were in ‘many cases’ able to pay into social security for a decade at best. We will rely on the offset in the difference between the $500 of our earned social security and the $914 from S.S.I., we are in the millions. “Life was different back then.” We are now hitting 65 and ready to move out of our RVs; ‘rooms-for-rent’ and for many elderly hard to believe ‘couch hopping.’ It is hard to believe many of us never drank, did drugs, or did anything other than work gigs to survive in our expensive U.S.A. (The generation that helped to build America) How can I help to push this bill through for us the “Baby Boomers” who are too weak to go on? I can make phone calls. Please confer, thanks in advance. (Senior Citizen)

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