Money for poor old people, the blind, and disabled may finally become reality on Guam

U.S. Congressman Michael San Nicolas made a landmark announcement Friday morning: “A major breakthrough that we had that I felt was incredibly important to share is – and I’m just so overwhelmed that the language has made it in is – we have secured Supplemental Security Income for the territories,” Mr. San Nicolas said in a news conference, referring to language in the President’s multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, which is on track to pass in the U.S. House of Representatives. “That’s going to basically make SSI available for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

SSI, which governors and Guam’s delegates to Congress have been trying to secure since the beginning of self government, is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes). It is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income; and it provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

“This is something we’ve been working on since Day 1 of when we took office and we were able to – we were just so happy to see the language has made its way into this package, into this negotiated package,” Mr. San Nicolas said.

According to the U.S. Social Security Administration:

Many people who are eligible for SSI may also be entitled to Social Security benefits. In fact, the application for SSI is also an application for Social Security benefits. However, SSI and Social Security are different in many ways.

  • Social Security benefits may be paid to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured” meaning you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. Unlike Social Security benefits, SSI benefits are not based on your prior work or a family member’s prior work.
  • SSI is financed by general funds of the U.S. Treasury — personal income taxes, corporate and other taxes. Social Security taxes collected under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) or the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA) do not fund the SSI program.
  • In most States, SSI recipients also can get medical assistance (Medicaid) to pay for hospital stays, doctor bills, prescription drugs, and other health costs.
  • Many States also provide a supplemental payment to certain SSI recipients.
  • SSI recipients may also be eligible for food assistance. In some States, an application for SSI also serves as an application for food assistance.
  • SSI benefits are paid on the first of the month.
  • To get SSI, you must be disabled, blind, or at least 65 years old and have “limited” income and resources.

Landmark achievements during San Nicolas’s tenure

If the SSI language makes it into law, this will be yet another significant achievement made by Mr. San Nicolas on Guam’s behalf since the young congressman took office in January 2019. Despite pushback from Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and his own party on Guam, Mr. San Nicolas has resolved decades-old issues, including war claims, the earned income credit reimbursement to Guam, inclusion in reparations for radiation survivors, increased Medicaid reimbursements on par with other U.S. jurisdictions, and several other monumental issues.


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