August 11,2023

Wyden, Brown, Casey Urge Social Security to Improve and Simplify the SSI Application Process

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Finance Committee members Senators Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Bob Casey, D-Pa., today urged the Social Security Administration (SSA) to simplify the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application and to provide the application online. 

“SSI claimants face significant administrative barriers to accessing this critical lifeline. In addition to the program’s stringent income and asset limits, the current SSI application form for evaluating non-medical eligibility criteria is over 20 pages long, and in paper form,” the senators wrote to the SSA Acting Commissioner, Kilolo Kijakazi. 

“It is more important than ever that the SSI program is modernized and accessible to all Americans…to expand access for disabled individuals seeking to apply for SSI benefits while lowering administrative costs,” the senators continued. 

The SSI program provides income support to adults aged 65 or older, blind or disabled adults, and blind or disabled children with limited financial resources. Today, over 7.5 million individuals receive monthly SSI payments averaging $677 per month. In 2022, SSI provided financial support and Medicaid coverage to over 80,000 Oregonians, 291,000 Ohioans, and 328,000 Pennsylvanians.

Wyden, Brown, and Casey concluded the letter by asking the SSA to respond within 90 days to update Congress on the agency’s progress to improve the SSI application.

This letter builds on the senators’ efforts to improve customer service at SSA for the over 70 million Social Security and SSI beneficiaries and the millions more who reach out to the agency for assistance. In April 2021, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing that highlighted the burdens this application places on potential beneficiaries. In January 2022, Wyden and Casey led a coalition of 15 senators to request an update on SSA’s efforts to implement changes discussed during the April 2021 hearing, including simplifying the SSI application. And in July 2022, Wyden, Brown and Casey sent a letter to SSA urging the agency to incorporate children in its current outreach efforts of individuals eligible for SSI benefits.

The text of the letter is here.