SSI Restoration Act

In June 2021, Sherrod Brown reintroduced the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act to bring the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program up to date. The federal SSI program provides nearly 8 million Americans who are elderly, disabled, or with limited resources with income assistance to provide basic needs. However, the program is long overdue for an update, since the SSI benefits received are only a fraction of what is needed to live on. 

Senator Brown said: “The promise of Social Security is to ensure that no one in America should live in poverty—least of all our nation’s seniors and people with disabilities…Congress must prioritize these long-overdue reforms as part of upcoming recovery legislation.” 

Brown called on the Biden Administration to make some much-needed changes to the SSI program, many elements supported by many other politicians, including President Biden. The bill is sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Robert Casey (D-PA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ed Markey (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Tina Smith (D-MN).

The bill has also been endorsed by Justice in Aging, AARP, AFL-CIO, AFSCME Retirees, Easter Seals, United Auto Workers (UAW), Leading Age, Homeless Action Center, Medicare Rights Center, National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Center for Law & Economic Justice, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), National Council on Aging, National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Women’s Law Center, New York Legal Assistance Group, Social Security Works, Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders (SAGE), Strengthen Social Security Coalition, the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, and more.

The Restoration Act comprises many elements, all designed to improve the living situation of those receiving SSI benefits. Some of these changes include:

  • Raising SSI benefits to $794, a 31% increase from $585, to keep up with inflation.
  • Eliminate benefit reductions from those receiving in-kind assistance from friends or family for living expenses.
  • Eliminate the marriage penalty, which will allow couples to have double the benefits of an individual instead of just 1.5 the amount an individual would receive.
  • Update the assets individuals/couples may have while receiving benefits, which haven’t been updated since 1989.
  • Update the SSI income rules, which haven’t been updated since the law was passed in 1972. 

Changes for 2022

While the Restoration Act was designed to help SSI beneficiaries in many ways, 2022 has also brought a cost of living adjustment (COLA) change on basic needs. As of January 2022, there is a 5.9% cost of living adjustment (COLA). COLA is based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the last year, and is designed to prevent inflation from draining any benefits you would receive and keeping SSI recipients above the Federal poverty line. COLA hasn’t previously been this high since 1982, only coming close in 2009. The income cap has also been raised for both workers under the retirement age, and those of the retirement age. 

The President has also signed an executive order, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The Executive Order requires all Federal agencies “to pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and other people who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.” This order will increase the collection of minority data, expand options for service delivery, decrease burdens of those who identify as gender diverse or transgender, ensure equitable access for unrepresented claimants in the disability application process, and more.

Lastly, Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, announced 12 new Compassionate Allowances conditions. This program is designed to accelerate claims for those with a condition or disease which meets Social Security’s statutory standard for disability. These claims are often allowed based on medical diagnosis alone because of the severe nature of these conditions. More than 800,000 people with severe disabilities have been approved through this accelerated, policy-compliant disability process, which has grown to 266 conditions.

How Can Trajector Help Me?

Securing disability benefits can be a long and complicated journey, and Trajector is here to help. They help the disabled and at-risk population receive the benefits they are medically, legally, and ethically owed. Trajector can help you with cases about personal injury, disability, mental or physical health, insurance, homelessness, and more. For more information, visit Trajector to see if they’re a good fit for you.

How Many Hours Can You Work On SSI?

SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income, which are monthly benefits to people with limited income, people who are disabled, or people over the age of 65. It’s important to note that SSI and Social Security Benefits are two different things. Social Security Benefits are based on your prior work and are received after retirement, and SSI is for those who are disabled or with low income.

How Much are SSI Benefits?

Benefit amounts can change yearly, or according to your situation (disabilities, child support, long-term care, etc.). As of 2022, the Federal Benefit Rate is $841 for an individual and $1,261 for a couple. However, some states offer state supplemental payments in addition to SSI. 

Can You Work While on SSI?

Yes, you can work. However, the amount you work each month will be deducted from your SSI monthly benefits. If you choose to work, it’s important to report your total monthly income to the Social Security Administration. If you don’t, you could be overpaid, then have to repay your SSI money. In worst-case scenarios, you could be accused of fraud and may face criminal prosecution. 

How Do I Report My Earnings to the Social Security Administration?

If you are working, make sure that you copy every pay stub you receive and either mail it or drop it off at the Social Security Administration office. Make sure they stamp each pay stub so you have proof that you have reported them.

How Many Hours Can I Work on SSI?

The Social Security Administration will limit your benefits if you work, and here’s how. First, they will disregard the first $65 you make every month. If you make less than that, your benefits will not change. However, any money you make above the $65 line will be reduced from your SSI benefits by half. For example, if you make $165 a month, only $50 will be deducted from your SSI benefits. 

What if You Work While Disabled?

If you are disabled, some out-of-pocket expenses for certain items may be deducted from your income, which means they won’t be subtracted from your benefits. These items can be for your work, or for your day-to-day activities, such as medications, counseling, wheelchairs, car modifications, software applications, computer support systems, and more. 

What is SGA?

SGA stands for Substantial Gainful Activity, which describes a level of work activity and earnings. The SGA limit does not mean you work full-time; it means you can perform significant physical and/or mental activities to help you obtain income. If you are earning more than $1,350 per month, you are not considered disabled. If you are blind, there is a higher SGA limit of $2,260. 

What if You Receive an Overpayment Notice?

An overpayment is when you receive more money for a month than you should have received. This typically happens when you fail to report your income, or report it late. However, this can also come with a change in living situations, marital status, you have more resources than the allowable limit, etc. You will typically be notified by mail and must repay the excess balance within the month. If you feel like the overpayment was a mistake, you can request a reconsideration and appeal it. If you cannot pay the amount back, there are some scenarios where you can request a waiver. 

How Does SSI Affect My Other Programs?

In most states, if you receive SSI, you are eligible for Medicaid, and the application is the same. If you are in a state that does not offer them together, you can apply for Medicaid separately. If you receive SSI, then you are usually eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which allows you to purchase food. It is worth applying online or at your local Social Security office. In the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, each state determines their own eligibility rules. Typically if you are in the TANF program, you will only receive SSI if you are disabled, blind, or over 65.

How Can Trajector Help Me?

Securing disability benefits can be a long and complicated journey, and Trajector is here to help. They help the disabled and at-risk population receive the benefits they are medically, legally, and ethically owed. Trajector can help you with cases about personal injury, disability, mental or physical health, insurance, homelessness, and more. For more information, visit Trajector to see if they’re a good fit for you. We provide additional resources to help SSI recipients find the care and answers they need.

What Benefits Can Families Of Veterans Have?

Special honor is given to those who have rendered active duty and military service during the war. In several cases, a veteran is left with a disability or impairment that affects how the veteran’s daily activities. Many of them need the support of their family members or a caregiver to deal with day-to-day activities. 

The US Department of Veterans Affairs is dedicated to serving and catering to the needs of veterans and their dependents and carers. Veterans may avail of veteran or VA benefits, but they may also qualify for disability benefits if they face any disability related to the veteran’s service. VA benefits, specifically, extend to their spouse and children as well. 

Who Can Access VA Benefits?

While veterans are eligible for benefits, such benefits extend to their families (the veteran’s spouse and dependent child). Those who care for veterans can also be granted support to help them do the job better. 

Do veterans’ children receive benefits?

A veteran’s dependents (spouse and children) can qualify for veteran/VA benefits. These veterans’ children’s benefits and spouse benefits can include health care aid, tuition assistance, or other forms of financial aid. 

How About Those Who Take Care Of Veterans?


Those who take care of veterans may also avail benefits that help them care for them more effectively. On top of that, caretakers also get benefits directly for themselves. 

How do I know if I am eligible?

If you are a veteran or the spouse, child, or carer of veterans, how do you know if you are eligible for these benefits? 

The eligibility requirements may differ depending on the veteran’s benefits and on the case for each veteran. 

The US Department of Veterans Affairs official site lists eligibility requirements for the specific benefit. 

Eligibility for health care benefits

For health care benefits, for example, these are the conditions for eligibility. 

  1. If the veteran’s enlistment date is after September 7, 1980, or if the veteran started active duty after October 16, 1981 
  2. The minimum duty requirement does not apply if the following conditions are true: 
  • Discharged due to disability that was caused or aggravated by active duty
  • Discharged due to difficulty or “early out” 
  • Was an active service member before September 7, 1980
  1. If the person is currently or formerly a service member for the selected reserve or National Guard 

Eligibility for disability compensation

Disability compensation is also available if these conditions for eligibility are met.

  1. The veteran’s current injury or illness impacts the body or mind.
  2.  The veteran served inactive duty training, active duty for training, or active duty. 

Both of these two conditions must be met. If only one is satisfied, eligibility is not possible. 

While those two are non-negotiable conditions, at least one of the following conditions should also be met. 

  1. The former service member got an injury or sickness during military service. This condition can be connected to current injury or illness (also known as Inservice Disability Claim) 
  2. The veteran had an injury or sickness before joining the military, and service with the army aggravated the condition (also known as Preservice Disability Claim).
  3. The veteran got a disability that is directly related to active duty service. However, this condition did not appear until after the term of service (also known as Postservice Disability claim) 

What is available to the family of those who have served?

According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, the benefits for the dependents (spouse, children, and survivors) include the following.

  • Health care
  • Educational benefits (tuition and other forms of aid under the GI bill) 
  • Employment
  • Home loans
  • Financial Counseling
  • Options for life insurance
  • Burial in a VA national cemetery (for the eligible veteran)
  • Survivors pension
  • Compensation for survivors

How can I access dependent benefits?

Similar to the case for eligibility, the process of availing these benefits and accessing claims varies from case to case. While there is a VA form that the veteran has to fill up, claiming a health benefit, education benefit, or a different kind of benefit has a special process.

Hence, it is important for you first to know your eligibility and then proceed with the actual application process. 

Applying for VA health care

The application process for health benefits is online through the US Department of Veteran Affairs official site. However, before proceeding with the application, you should prepare the following. 

  • Social Security identification numbers of the veteran, spouse, and eligible dependents
  • DD214 (military discharge paper) or other valid separation documents 
  • Card information for all affiliated insurances of the veteran or the veteran’s spouse 
  • Gross household income during the previous calendar for the veteran, spouse, and dependents 
  • Deductible expenses during the previous year (i.e. health expenses, education costs) 

The veteran or the one proceeding with the application should have this information before starting the application process. 

Claiming disability compensation

If you are eligible for disability compensation, you can apply to claim this compensation online, by mail, in person, or by tapping a professional. 

Before proceeding, however, you must ensure that you have evidence to support your claims for eligibility to make things easier. These could be public or private hospital records that reveal your condition and statements from family members, relatives, friends, clergy members, law enforcement personnel, and fellow veterans. These statements and documents should give insight into the condition and how it worsened. 

While submitting evidence is not required, the US Department of Veterans Affairs may conduct a claim exam to know more about your condition. 

If you plan to process these claims through paper, it may help if you pass an “Intent to File” form first. Submitting this file will allow you time to collect evidence without delaying the start date or effective date. With an intent to file, it is also possible to obtain retroactive payments or compensations for the past months. 

The road to a successful claim 

Processing and applying are quite tedious processes. What makes things worse, however, is the possibility of rejection. Even if you file your claim and apply for benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs may reject your claims. 

How can Trajector help me?

We at Trajector can help you face this problem by guiding you through the application process and serving as your legal representative. Our team at Trajector Medical, Trajector Disability, and Trajector Legal can work with you to process your application and claims for veteran benefits. 

With us, you can rest assured that your claims have higher chances of success.

California Pregnancy Disability Leave

What is pregnancy leave?

Congratulations, you’re pregnant! (Or, maybe someone you know is, and you’re reading this to help them.)

Pregnancy is an exciting but also a difficult time in many ways, especially for the women who are expecting. Pregnancy and childbirth can sometimes exacerbate existing medical conditions, or even cause entirely new and unexpected ones to appear. I can make things that used to be simple and easy a difficult or even dangerous process. This is especially true for women who are involved in work that might cause some danger to them or their baby.

Fortunately, that’s where pregnancy leave comes into play. Like other forms of medical leave or disability leave, pregnancy disability leave is a program that provides pregnant people with some financial benefits while they are pregnant and can no longer fulfill their normal work duties safely.

Since pregnancy can qualify as a temporary form of disability, especially in the later months, systems are in place in California and other locations to help those who might experience a loss in income during part of their pregnancy.

How can I apply for pregnancy disability leave?

Parental leave isn’t quite the same as sick leave, but the application process is similar. It requires medical approval from a doctor stating that you shouldn’t be working during the pregnancy; this statement ensures fair employment and treatment throughout the pregnancy, childbirth, and bonding time with the child.

The disability application process should begin as soon as your medical provider asserts that you should no longer be working due to your pregnancy, that your normal job requirements would no longer be safe while you are pregnant, or when they certify that you need to limit your hours of work due to a pregnancy-related disability.

You will want to speak with your healthcare professional (who must be a licensed professional) about your normal work duties and make sure that they are aware of anything that could impact your health or your baby’s health during pregnancy; you can ask them specifically if you think you might qualify for pregnancy disability leave or that you will need it.

Your healthcare advisor should be able to provide you with the certifications you need and point you in the right direction to start your application so that you can begin receiving benefits.

What are the benefits of pregnancy leave for California employees?

California pregnancy disability leave benefits normally cover the 4 weeks before your expected delivery and the 6 to 8 weeks directly afterward, as you recover. However, some cases will be different, with longer periods of time possible for this coverage. It all depends on many factors, such as where you work, what you do there, your health and the baby’s condition, any pre-existing risk factors, and your medical professional’s advice.

For those who would not safely be able to work in their normal jobs before that 4-week period begins, benefits may start earlier; on the other hand, for those experiencing medical complications after the delivery, benefits may extend after the typical recovery period. 

Does California offer maternity leave?

Yes, California law offers eligible pregnant employees maternity leave, though not under that specific name. California’s Paid Family Leave is parental bonding leave for a new child (among other events, such as caring for a seriously ill family member). Paid Family Leave is different from pregnancy disability leave—it is there to give you some time to take care of and bond with your newborn(s).

Suppose you apply for it and your application is accepted. In that case, Paid Family Leave provides paid leave for up to 8 weeks, with the payments offering from 60 to 70 percent of your pre-leave income with the last 5 to 18 months; this leave won’t fully cover your wages, but it can be much better than nothing when you need to take some additional time off from work.

If you have been receiving pregnancy disability leave benefits, you should receive information about applying for Paid Family Leave once your last check for disability pay has arrived. Whether you automatically get that information or not, this second kind of leave can begin once your period of recovery ends, and your healthcare professional says that your pregnancy-related disability will no longer impede your work. 

Unfortunately, Paid Family Leave does not automatically provide job protection from pregnancy discrimination, meaning that some employers will not be obligated to offer you back your job once your leave is over.

To prevent wrongful termination, make sure that you know what the rules are with your employer beforehand. Also, you can see if your job might be protected under other California laws, such as the Family Medical Leave Act or the California Family Rights Act as job-protected leave (or CFRA leave). Female employees might also consider seeing if they qualify for state disability insurance related to childbirth.

How can Trajector help me?

Like many legal and financial fields, navigating the complexity of disability benefits, including pregnancy disability leave and other temporary conditions, can be a daunting task, especially for those of us with little or no background in those areas of expertise. Misunderstandings, loopholes, and simple mistakes can mean that those who should qualify for benefits will not always receive them as easily as they should. What can be done if you end up in this kind of situation? Fortunately, there are professionals ready to offer their assistance.

Trajector is a company dedicated to helping people receive the disability benefits they qualify for, whether those benefits come from government or private entities.  Trajector helps their clients navigate this complexity to help them receive the necessary benefits. 

If you aren’t sure where to begin with your journey to receive your disability benefits, or if you are already in the midst of that journey and are looking for professional support, consider getting in touch with Trajector today to see how they can help you.