BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                     AB 474

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          Date of Hearing:  May 7, 2015 

                            ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON BUDGET

                                Shirley Weber, Chair

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

          SUBJECT:  Public social services: SSI/SSP.

          SUMMARY:  Specifically, this bill:  

          1)For the 2015-16 fiscal year, and annually thereafter, would  
            require the state maximum State Supplementary Payment (SSP)  
            grant for individuals to be readjusted and increased so that  
            the state SSP payment and the federal Supplemental Security  
            Income (SSI) payment, when combined, equal 112 percent of the  
            federal poverty level (FPL).  

          EXISTING LAW:  Existing state law creates the Supplemental  
          Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) program,  
          which provides a monthly cash benefit to enable needy aged,  
          blind, and disabled people to meet their basic living expenses  
          for food, clothing, and shelter.  The state's General Fund  
          provides the SSP portion of the grant while federal funds pay  
          for the SSI portion of the grant.  The 2015-16 Governor's Budget  
          includes $10.1 billion ($7.3 billion federal funds, $2.8 billion  
          General Fund) for the SSI/SSP program.  


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          FISCAL EFFECT:  To increase grants for individuals to 112  
          percent of the FPL, the state would provide $198 to the maximum  
          grant per month (from a total grant of $900 to $1,098).  The  
          marginal grant increase multiplied by 12 months multiplied by  
          1.073 million individual recipients totals an annual and ongoing  
          cost of approximately $2.5 billion.  (Please note that this  
          estimate scenario increases the grant after an already-budgeted  
          federal cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) takes effect on January  
          1, 2016, discussed below).  This change would increase the  
          individual grant on an annual basis from $10,800 to  
          approximately $13,176.  

          COMMENTS:  SSI/SSP Caseload.  To be eligible for SSI/SSP, a  
          person must be at least 65 years old, blind, or disabled  
          (including blind or disabled children).  A qualified recipient  
          must file an application with the Social Security Administration  
          (SSA).  Federal criteria are used to determine eligibility.  A  
          qualified SSI recipient is automatically qualified for SSP.  To  
          be eligible for SSI and maintain eligibility, a person must meet  
          certain income and resource requirements.  

          Caseload is estimated to be 1.53 million individual recipients  
          in 2015-16, a 0.6 percent increase over the 2014-15 caseload.   
          This breaks out into 1.073 million individuals in the program  
          and 230,000 couple cases (two persons in each couple).  The  
          caseload consists of 27 percent aged,    2 percent blind, and 71  
          percent disabled persons.  

          Current Grant Levels.  The Governor's Budget passes through the  
          federal cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for SSI/SSP recipients,  
          1.7 percent for 2015 and a projected 1.5 percent for 2016.   
          These changes keep the SSI/SSP grant levels at their minimum as  
          allowed under federal law for both couples and individuals in  
          order for the state to maintain eligibility for Medicaid  
          funding.  The grant level that individuals and couples receive  
          varies based on existing income and falling into a specific  
          eligibility category.  There are 25 eligibility categories, each  


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          with a unique maximum grant level.  For purposes of analysis,  
          the administration uses the "maximum" possible grant when we  
          discuss the state of the grants and scenarios for changing the  
          grant.  Effective January 1, 2016, maximum grant levels are $900  
          per month for an individual and $1,512 per month for couples.   
          Today and until December 31, 2015, they are $889 per month for  
          an individual and $1,496 per month for couples.  

          The chart below from the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) in  
          March 2015 displays the maximum monthly SSI/SSP grant for  
          individuals and couples in 2000-01, as compared to proposed  
          grant levels for 2015-16 (after January 1, 2016).  

          SSI/SSP Maximum Monthly Grants Then and Now

          |                    |2000-01      |2015-16         |
          |                    |             |Proposed        |
          |Maximum             |             |                |
          |Grant-Individuals   |             |                |
          |SSI                 |$531         |$744            |
          |SSP                 |181          |156             |
          |Totals              |$712         |$900            |
          |Percent of FPL      |102.3%       |91.8%           |
          |Maximum             |             |                |
          |Grant-Couples       |             |                |
          |SSI                 |$796         |$1,116          |
          |SSP                 |469          |396             |


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          |Totals              |$1,265       |$1,512          |
          |Percent of FPL      |134.9%       |113.9%          |
          |FPL = federal poverty                              |
          |level.                                             |

          2015 Federal Poverty Level.  The chart below displays the 2015  
          FPL at its 100 percent and 112 percent levels (as proposed to be  
          a minimum level for individual grants in this bill).  The FPL is  
          determined by the federal government and the different household  
          levels are displayed for every year at the U.S. Department of  
          Health and Human Services website.  

          |Number of people in |       100% FPL       |         112%         |
          |a household         |                      |                      |
          |One person          |   $11,770 per year   |   $13,182 per year   |
          |(Individual)        |                      |                      |
          |Two people          |   $15,930 per year   |$17,841 per           |
          |                    |                      |year                  |
          |                    |                      |                      |
          |                    |                      |                      |
          |                    |                      |                      |

          Other Impacts.  If the proposal were adopted, the 230,000 couple  
          cases in the program (equating to 460,000 individuals) would not  


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          experience an increase in their monthly grants, both due to the  
          fact that the bill only applies to "individuals" cases and that  
          couples currently receive a combined grant that exceeds 112  
          percent FPL (as shown in the LAO table above, they are at 113.9  
          percent FPL in 2015-16).  

          The Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI) provides  
          benefits to aged, blind, and disabled legal immigrants.  The  
          CAPI benefits are equivalent to SSI/SSP program benefits, less  
          $10 per individual and $20 per couple.  The grant increases for  
          individuals would presumably have an effect for the CAPI grants  
          as well, as these grant levels are statutorily tied.  This would  
          increase the cost of the proposal further.  

          SSI/SSP Advocacy.  The Committee has received numerous letters  
          regarding proposed increases in the SSI/SSP grants, though none  
          have been particular to this proposal.  Letters in support of  
          SSI/SSP grant increases have been submitted by the Health and  
          Human Services Network, California Advocates for Nursing Home  
          Reform, California Council of the Blind, and Disability Rights  
          California, among other organizations and numerous individuals.   



          None on File



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          None on File 

          Analysis Prepared by:Nicole Vazquez / BUDGET / 916-319-2099