Bill would waive requirement that prevents evacuees from
immediately accessing Supplemental Security Income benefits
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) filed legislation today to give evacuees from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands immediate access to a federal income supplemental program designed to help U.S. residents pay for basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter in the wake of a disaster.
The legislation would give the Social Security Administration emergency authority to waive a rule requiring U.S. residents be “present” in the mainland U.S. for 30 consecutive days before they are eligible for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. This 30-day rule means evacuees arriving in the mainland from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are not eligible for assistance under this program for at least 30 days.
“U.S. residents living in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are just that: U.S. residents,” Nelson said. “They deserve the same help and assistance as any other U.S. resident would get in the wake of a disaster and this bill will help provide them the assistance they need to pay for basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter.”
By law, SSI is not available to U.S. residents in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands. To qualify, U.S. residents must be “present” in one of the 50 states, District of Columbia or Northern Mariana Islands for 30 consecutive days.
If approved, Nelson’s bill would give the Social Security Administration emergency authority to waive the 30-day requirement for otherwise eligible persons who evacuate from the U.S. territories due to emergencies or natural disasters.
The legislation now heads to the Senate Finance Committee.
A copy of the bill is available here.