RESOLUTION OPPOSING CUTS TO STATE SUPPLEMENTAL PAYMENTS (SSP) FOR VULNERABLE PENNSYLVANIANS

WHEREAS, 345,000 very low income, elderly, severely disabled and blind Pennsylvanians, including 67,000 children, currently rely on federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, as well as a modest payment from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania known as the State Supplemental Payment (SSP), as their principal source of monthly income;

WHEREAS, SSI benefits for poor and disabled persons, as administered by the Social Security Administration, are not adequate to enable recipients to meet federal poverty guidelines, as the SSI grant is $674 per month for an individual and $1,011 per month for a married couple, with or without the SSP payments;

WHEREAS, a person receiving SSI earns only 77.7% of the federal poverty level and, notwithstanding the harsh financial developments of the past two years, SSI recipients did not receive a cost of living allowance in 2010;

WHEREAS, before the recent cut proposals, the Pennsylvania SSP grant provided an additional $27.40 per month for an individual and $43.70 month for a married couple;

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare has announced its intention to reduce the SSP for an individual by $5.30/month (a 19% reduction) and by $10.40/month for a couple (a 24% reduction), effective February 1, 2010;

WHEREAS, the proposed cuts, if enacted, would have an unduly harsh impact on recipients already living below the federal poverty guidelines, and are likely to result in hunger due to missed meals, reductions in health care due to medical co-pays that cannot be met, paratransit rides that cannot be taken, and further delay in efforts to support those seeking to move out of homelessness, because every dollar counts for low income SSI recipients;

WHEREAS, the Pennsylvania SSP for SSI recipients has not been increased since January 1976;

WHEREAS, the announcement of the proposed SSP cuts was not made until January 16, 2010, and the shortness of notice has effectively left recipients and caregivers without any meaningful opportunity to respond to the cuts prior to the effective date of February 1, 2010 or otherwise to adapt to this significant change in their modest income;

WHEREAS, a rapidly growing state-wide coalition has come together in recognition of the onerous consequences of these cuts in order to advocate for the prompt reinstatement of the SSP benefit to its prior level;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association historically has expressed its views on proposed legislation, regulatory changes and funding cutbacks that would have a significant financial impact on the disabled and poor who have a limited ability to speak out and lobby against these changes, including but not limited to its Resolution Opposing Proposed State Welfare Cuts dated April 21, 1994 and its Resolution Opposing Cuts To Medical Assistance in HB 1500 dated June 23, 2005;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association urges the Governor, the Department of Public Welfare and the General Assembly to reject or rescind any proposed or actual cuts in the SSP payments made to low income and disabled Pennsylvanians in light of the unduly harsh impact of these cuts on the health and well being of this vulnerable population;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor or his designee are authorized to make known the position of the Philadelphia Bar Association to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and to the Governor. .

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: March 2, 2010