July 20, 2022

Wyden, Brown, Casey Urge Social Security to Include Children in Eligibility Outreach Programs

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy Subcommittee Chair Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Senate Special Committee on Aging Chair Bob Casey, D-Pa., today urged the Social Security Administration (SSA) to incorporate children in ongoing outreach efforts, to help families eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

“We share President Biden and SSA’s priority to advance equity throughout the Federal Government, particularly among underserved communities, by removing barriers and increasing access to federal programs and services,” the senators wrote in a letter to Social Security Administration Acting Commissioner, Dr. Kilolo Kijakazi. “We also appreciate the agency’s recent efforts to expand its outreach efforts to vulnerable populations such as those experiencing homelessness, and committing to increase the number of SSI applications from underserved communities by 25 percent in Fiscal Year 2023.”

However, none of these programs directly target children with disabilities,” the senators continued. “These initiatives leverage existing community networks, but typically interact with a smaller subset of the larger population and may ultimately exclude those who would be eligible. It is imperative that SSA’s programs are equitably accessible to those who need assistance, and we stand committed to working with you to expand outreach make those connections.”

More than 11 million children in the United States live in poverty, or 16 percent of all children — roughly twice the poverty rate of working-age adults and seniors. Black, American Indian and Alaska Native children are more likely to have a disability than Non-Hispanic White children. Additionally, 6.5% of children living in poverty have a disability, compared with 3.8% of children living above the Federal poverty line.

SSI benefits, while modest, can have a substantial impact in the lives of families of children with disabilities. In 2020, approximately 354,000 children were lifted out of poverty through SSI. Despite the rise in these indicators, the number of SSI awards for children have steadily declined over the past 10 years. Knowing the significant impact on children’s lives, Congress required SSA to “establish and conduct an ongoing program of outreach to children who are potentially eligible” for SSI disability. However, SSA has dedicated limited resources to connect children to this critical lifeline.

The text of the letter is here.


Press Contact

Taylor Harvey (Wyden)