Some of California’s poorest residents will be among the first to feel the impact of the cuts included in the February budget agreement. Starting Friday, May 1, California will reduce Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) grants – which help more than 1.1 million low-income seniors and people with disabilities meet basic needs – to their December 1, 2008 level. For an individual recipient, this means the maximum grant will drop from $907 per month to $870 per month, a 4.1 percent reduction. This cut is estimated to save the state $80 million in 2008-09 and $487 million in 2009-10. SSI/SSP recipients are also bracing for an additional 2.3 percent cut scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2009, which will further reduce the maximum grant for individuals to $850 per month, saving another $268 million in 2009-10. Finally, the February budget agreement suspended the state cost-of-living adjustment for SSI/SSP grants that was supposed to be provided in June 2010 for one-month savings of $27 million in 2009-10 and annual savings of more than $300 million beginning in 2010-11.
The combined impact of these cuts means that individual SSI/SSP recipients will lose more than $770 between May 2009 and June 2010. This reduction is more than three times the $250 payment that SSI/SSP recipients will receive this year under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, thereby undercutting the intended economic stimulus of the one-time federal payment. In addition, the SSI/SSP cuts included in the February budget agreement are only the latest in a long series of state cuts to the program – cuts that have reduced the purchasing power of SSI/SSP grants by approximately one-quarter since 1990.
— Scott Graves