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H.R. 5341 (98th): SSI Equitable Improvements and Reform Amendments of 1984

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

4/3/1984--Introduced. SSI Equitable Improvements and Reform Amendments of 1984 - Title I: Treatment of Income - Amends title XVI (Supplemental Security Income) of the Social Security Act to exclude from income unearned income received in the form of real or personal property: (1) if it meets the existing criteria for exclusion from resources; (2) which is of a type not normally converted into cash or otherwise used for the production of income, which is not so converted or used, and which cannot be used for food or clothing; or (3) which is received as a gift or heirloom possessing emotional or sentimental value and which is not converted into cash or otherwise used for the production of income. Makes permanent SSI and AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children, part A of title IV of the Social Security Act) provisions which exempt in-kind home energy assistance provided by a private nonprofit organization. Provides for the exclusion of certain interest and dividend income. Provides that any temporary one-time income which is received by an individual in the individual's initial month of SSI eligibility shall be taken into account only for that month. Excludes from income amounts received by holocaust survivors as reparations from foreign countries. Title II: Treatment of Resources - Provides that to the extent that an overpayment results because a recipient's resources exceed the applicable limit, such overpayment shall be determined to be the lesser of: (1) the amount of benefits received or for which the recipient would have been eligible but for such resources; or (2) the amount by which the value of the resources exceeded the applicable resource limit. Modifies penalties where assets are transferred at less than fair market value. Provides that if assets are so transferred, the period of ineligibility shall bear a reasonable relationship to the uncompensated value of such resource. Permits a waiver of the penalty if: (1) the individual is in a hospital, nursing home, or other medical institution and cannot reasonably be expected to be discharged; (2) title was transferred to the individual's spouse or to the individual's child who is under age 21 or is blind or disabled; (3) the individual intended to dispose of the resource either at fair market value or for other valuable consideration; or (4) the inclusion of the resource in the individual's resources would work an undue hardship. Provides that in any event, if a State waives a similar penalty under Medicaid (title XIX of the Social Security Act) for such individual, the SSI penalty shall also be waived. Excludes from resources, for 12 months from the date of receipt, SSI or OASDI (Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance, title II of the Social Security Act) underpayment amounts received in the form of a retroactive check. Increases the SSI resources limit for single individuals from $1,500 to $2,000, and for married couples from $2,250 to $3,000. Excludes from the SSI resources limit an automobile, household goods, and personal effects. (Current law also exempts such items, but only to the extent determined reasonable by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.) Title III: Determination of Benefit Amounts - Revises SSI provisions providing for a one-third reduction in benefits for an SSI recipient who lives in another person's household and who receives support and maintenance in kind from such person. Provides that an individual shall not be considered to be "living in another person's household and receiving support and maintenance in kind from such person" if such individual lives in a household with another person and such individual's pro rata share of the expenses of maintaining such household does not exceed the benefit payable to an individual with no other income who is living in another person's household and receiving support and maintenance from such person. Provides for the continuation of regular SSI benefits until the end of the second consecutive month of institutionalization if an eligible individual is institutionalized. Increases the benefits standard payable annually to: (1) an institutionalized individual from $300 to $420; and (2) an institutionalized couple from $600 to $840. Title IV: Provisions Relating to Eligibility - Provides that a disabled child who is living outside the United States with his or her parents shall maintain SSI eligibility so long as the parents retain legal residence in the United States. Provides for the payment of benefits due a deceased SSI recipient to certain individuals who contributed to the support of the deceased. (Current law provides for the payment of benefits following a beneficiary's death only to the surviving spouse.) Provides for an exemption from the requirement that an SSI applicant or recipient must file for OASDI or other pension benefits if receipt of such benefits would cause the applicant or recipient to be ineligible for SSI or Medicaid. Reduces from six months to one month the length of time that an SSI individual and spouse must live separately before they will be treated as separate individuals for SSI purposes. Title V: Overpayments, Underpayments, and Benefit Reductions - Provides that, in situations where there has not been fraud in connection with an SSI overpayment, overpayments shall be recovered through adjustments in future benefits which do not reduce any benefit payment by more than the greater of ten percent or ten dollars. Expands the SSI interim assistance program to include payment of retroactive SSI funds to a State for assistance provided during any period following the termination of an individual's SSI benefits, if and to the extent that: (1) the individual is subsequently found on reconsideration of the termination to have been eligible for such benefits; and (2) a retroactive payment of benefits for months in that period is due the individual. Repeals the penalty imposed against an SSI recipient because the group living facility in which the recipient lives fails to meet applicable standards. Increases from $100 to an amount equal to monthly SSI benefits for three months the emergency cash advances available to a presumptively eligible individual. Provides that: (1) if at any time both an overpayment and an underpayment exist in the case of an individual without a final adjustment or recovery having yet been made with respect to either of them, no such adjustment shall be made with respect to the underpayment until the individual has had a reasonable opportunity to seek a waiver of the overpayment; and (2) the existence of the underpayment shall not preclude the granting of such a waiver of the overpayment or otherwise affect the disposition thereof. Prohibits the Secretary from taking any action to recover an SSI overpayment until the Secretary has sent the SSI recipient who has been overpaid a notice containing, in clear and understandable language, certain information, including a statement of the individual's right to seek a waiver of the overpayment and to seek a reconsideration of the determination that an overpayment exists. Title VI: Extension of SSI Program - Includes the Virgin Islands and Guam within the SSI program. Directs the Secretary to conduct a study of the feasibility of extending the SSI program to Puerto Rico and to report the results to Congress. Title VII: Other Amendments - Directs the Secretary to conduct a statistically reliable survey of current and potential recipients of SSI benefits, with the objective of determining the extent to which the program is being used by individuals who are or may be eligible for SSI benefits and the extent to which current data (on the number of such individuals and their reasons for filing or not filing SSI applications) are accurate, and to report the results of such survey to Congress together with any recommendations. Directs the Secretary to establish and conduct an ongoing program designed to provide information about SSI benefits (and State supplementary benefits) to individuals who are not currently receiving such benefits. Directs the Secretary to assist applicants and recipients in executing and filing applications for SSI benefits and in furnishing any other information which may be required, with particular attention to cases where such applicants and recipients because of their physical or mental condition are incapable without undue difficulty of executing or filing such applications or furnishing such information. Directs the Secretary to take certain steps to assure that all information and forms for SSI applicants and recipients are clear and readily understandable. Sets forth the effective date.