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Lawmakers support increased SSI asset limits

Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries in West Virginia and around the country are generally only permitted have to resources worth $2,000 or less at any given time. For couples, this figure rises to $3,000. SSI benefits provide financial assistance to Americans who are blind, disabled or 65 years of age or older. These limits have not been revised since 1989, and they have been called arbitrary and outdated by both advocacy groups and lawmakers.

Calls to change SSI asset limits have recently attracted political backing. In September, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would increase the limits to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for couples, and a similar proposal was submitted to the U.S. Senate on Oct. 30. Critics of the current limits say they deter beneficiaries from earning money or saving for emergencies.

In addition to raising SSI asset limits, the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act would remove what is known as the marriage penalty by doubling the individual limit for married couples. The amount of money beneficiaries can earn each month before losing their benefits would also be increased. The bill is being sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown.

SSI benefits can greatly improve the lives of low-income Americans, but the application process is complex and even minor paperwork errors can lead to denials or long delays. Navigating the bureaucratic process is especially difficult for those who apply for Social Security Disability as well as SSI benefits. Attorneys with experience in this area could help applicants to avoid common pitfalls be ensuring that the documentation they submit is completed properly and received in a timely manner. Attorneys may also assist applicants during the appeals process if their claims are denied.