BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 474


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          Date of Hearing:  April 28, 2015


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON HUMAN SERVICES


                                  Kansen Chu, Chair


          AB 474  
          (Brown) - As Amended April 7, 2015


          SUBJECT:  Public social services:  SSI/SSP


          SUMMARY:  Annually adjusts the State Supplementary Payment (SSP)  
          amount beginning with the 2015-16 fiscal year.  Specifically,  
          this bill:  Requires the state maximum SSP grant amount for  
          individuals to be readjusted and increased annually so that the  
          combined total of the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI)  
          payment and the SSP payment equal 112% of the federal poverty  
          level.


          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Establishes the State Supplementary Program for Aged, Blind  
            and Disabled, which is intended to supplement SSI and provide  
            persons whose need results from age, blindness or disability  
            with assistance and services that help them meet basic needs  
            and maintain or increase independence.  (WIC 12000 et seq.)


          2)Provides that eligibility requirements for SSP match federal  
            SSI criteria, and requires a minimum level of SSP benefits to  
            be provided in order to maintain federal Medicaid funding, as  
            specified.  (WIC 12000 et seq.)








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          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown


          COMMENTS:


          SSI/SSP:  The Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary  
          Payment (SSI/SSP) program provides a monthly cash benefit to  
          needy aged, blind, and disabled individuals and couples to help  
          them pay for basic living expenses, such as food, clothing and  
          shelter.  In order to be eligible for SSI/SSP, an individual  
          must be 65 years of age or older, blind, or disabled (blind or  
          disabled children can qualify), and must meet certain federal  
          income and resource requirements.  The SSI portion of the  
          benefit is federally-funded and only provided through an  
          approved application to the Social Security Administration  
          (SSA), while the SSP portion is paid for with General Fund  
          dollars, and a qualified SSI recipient is automatically  
          qualified for SSP.  The SSI portion of the grant is meant to  
          provide an income floor for qualifying low-income individuals  
          and couples.


          SSI/SSP grants are adjusted based on whether a recipient is  
          aged, blind or disabled, the individual's or couple's living  
          arrangement, a recipient's marital status, and a recipient's  
          status as a minor.  The current SSI/SSP maximum grant levels are  
          $889.40 per month for an individual ($156.40 SSP) and $1,496 per  
          month for couples ($396.20 SSP), which places individuals at 90%  
          of poverty and couples at 112% of poverty based on federal  
          guidelines.  The estimated SSI/SSP caseload for 2015-16 is 1.31  
          million cases (including 1.5 million people), which is comprised  
          of 27% aged, 2% blind and 71% disabled persons.  Over 80% of  
          SSI/SSP cases are individual cases.


          The SSA applies an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to  








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          the SSI portion of the grant pursuant to annual increases in the  
          Consumer Price Index (CPI).  This federal COLA is passed through  
          to SSI/SSP recipients in California, which allows SSI/SSP grants  
          to remain at the minimum level allowed under federal law for  
          individuals and couples, thereby allowing the state to maintain  
          its federal Medicaid funding.  During the state's economic  
          downturn, the SSI/SSP program was one of many safety net  
          programs negatively impacted.  The COLA California once applied  
          to the SSP amount was made inoperative as part of the 2009-10  
          Budget Act, and new statutory authority would be needed to  
          reinstate it.  


          Need for this bill:  In a March 2015 Joint Hearing of the  
          Assembly Committee on Aging and Long Term Care and the Assembly  
          Committee on Human Services titled Who Can Afford to Get Old?   
          Senior Poverty in the Golden State, numerous aged and disabled  
          individuals provided public comment about the financial hardship  
          they and people they know were facing due, in part, to the low  
          SSI/SSP grant amount, which is the sole source of income for  
          many of them.  In addition to pointing out how the SSI/SSP grant  
          amount has not kept up with inflation, many members of the  
          public spoke about how too many aged and disabled individuals  
          had to make tough decisions about which expenses they were going  
          to be able to pay each month, understanding that their SSI/SSP  
          grant amounts weren't high enough to meet even their most basic  
          needs.  More specifically, a presentation prepared for the  
          hearing by the California Budget & Policy Center revealed that  
          the current Fair Market Rent for a studio apartment exceeds the  
          maximum SSI/SSP grant level for an individual in 15 counties,  
          and exceeds 50% of the maximum SSI/SSP grant for an individual  
          in all 58 counties.  


          The California Elder Economic Security Index (EESI) is a  
          county-specific measure of the minimum income necessary to cover  
          basic expenses for people age 65 years and older.  Factoring in  
          housing, food, health care, and transportation costs, the EESI  
          illustrates the shortcomings of the current SSI/SSP grant amount  








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          for seniors.  According to the EESI, a single renter living  
          alone in a one-bedroom apartment in San Bernardino County  needs  
          $1,850 per month to pay for basic expenses, which increases to  
          $2,453 needed for a couple renting a one-bedroom apartment.  In  
          Alameda County, the amount needed increases to $2,170 for a  
          single elderly renter and $2,888 for a couple.  By increasing  
          the monthly SSI/SSP grant amount for individuals to 112% of  
          poverty ($1,099), the author of this bill seeks to increase  
          recipients' quality of life.


          According to the author, "Retirement is not 'golden' for all  
          older adults in California, let alone the United States?This  
          population struggles with rising housing costs, unmanageable  
          health care bills, and inadequate nutrition.  The impact upon  
          essential needs are compounded by a lack of transportation,  
          diminished savings, and even for some who are still vibrant  
          enough, job loss.  For older adults who live in relative  
          (statistical) security just above the poverty level, one major  
          adverse life event can dramatically alter their experiences for  
          the worse? It is well documented that the effects of the  
          nation's economic difficulties have been devastating for seniors  
          who tend only to be capable of deploying limited coping  
          strategies during periods of economic downturns? SSI/SSP grant  
          increases may be the most important economic development program  
          the we can offer this year because every single one of those  
          additional dollars are spent by elders, blind and disabled  
          people struggling to make ends meet."


           DOUBLE REFERRAL  .  This bill has been double-referred.  Should  
          this bill pass out of this committee, it will be referred to the  
          Assembly Committee on Budget.














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          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          California Employment Lawyers Association ("CELA") - co-sponsor


          2-1-1 Humboldt


          Access to Independence


          Alameda County Community Food Bank


          Alameda County Meals on Wheels


          AllCare Alliance 


          American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees  
          (AFSCME), AFL-CIO 


          Antelope Valley Seniors Network 


          Bay Area Community Services 









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          California Alliance for Retired Americans 


          California Association of Area Agencies on Aging 


          California Association of Food Banks 


          California Association of Public Authorities (CAPA) 


          California Catholic Conference of Bishops 


          California Commission on Aging (CCoA) 


          California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) 


          California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC) 


          California In-Home Supportive Services Consumer Alliance 


          California Partnership 


          California Senior Leaders Alliance (CSLA) 


          Californians for Disability Rights, Inc. 


          Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations, Inc. 









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          Community Resources for Independent Living 


          Courage Campaign 


          Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services 


          Disability Rights California 


          Educate. Advocate. 


          Feeding America San Diego 


          Gray Panthers of San Francisco 


          Hunger Action Los Angeles 


          Hunger Advocacy Network 


          IHSS Consumers Union 


          Imperial Valley Food Bank 


          Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFS) 


          Justice in Aging 









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          Los Angeles Community Action Network 


          Meals on Wheels Greater San Diego 


          Mental Healthhookup 


          Mercy Brown Bag Program 


          Mission for the Homeless, Inc. 


          National Association of Social Workers, CA Chapter (NASW-CA) 


          Older Women's League (OWL) Sacramento 


          Orange County Food Access Coalition 


          Personal Assistance Services Council 


          Placer People of Faith Together 


          Project Chicken Soup 


          Redwood Empire Food Bank 


          Resources for Independent Living (RIL) 









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          Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee 


          Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness 


          San Diego Hunger Coalition 


          San Diego Organizing Project (SDOP) 


          San Francisco Senior and Disability Action 


          SF Marin Food Bank 


          St. Anthony Foundation 


          St. Francis Living Room 


          St. Mary's Center 


          Tenderloin Housing Clinic 


          Thai Community Development Center 


          The Insight Center for Community Economic Development 


          The Resource Connection Food Bank 









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          California Council of the blind (CCB) 


          UDW/AFSCME Local 3930 


          Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College 


          Venice Community Housing Corporation 


          Volunteers of East Los Angeles (VELA) 


          Western Center on Law & Poverty 


          Westside Center for Independence Living 


          Women Organizing Resources, Knowledge and Services (WORKS) 


          1 Individual




          Opposition


          None on file.




          Analysis Prepared by:Myesha Jackson / HUM. S. / (916) 319-2089








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