Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides federally funded cash assistance to help low-income seniors and people with disabilities pay for housing, food, and other necessities. The maximum monthly SSI grant for most recipients in California is currently $735 per month — less than 75% of the federal poverty line for an individual. Also, California funds a State Supplementary Payment (SSP), which provides up to an additional $160.72 per month for most recipients. Yet, the combined maximum SSI/SSP grant for an individual — $895.72 per month — is still equal to only about 90% of the poverty line. Total funding for SSI/SSP will reach nearly $10 billion in 2016-17, with the federal government providing $7.2 billion and the state, $2.5 billion. SSI/SSP recipients live in all 53 of California’s congressional districts. For example, in the 23rd District, represented by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), 3.6% of residents rely on SSI/SSP to help make ends meet. In the 12th District, represented by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), 5.2% of residents are enrolled in SSI/SSP. The efforts of Republican leaders in Washington to scale back federal support for the safety net could include reductions to SSI. Any such cuts would be a further blow to SSI/SSP recipients who already struggle with California’s high cost of living.
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