600 Income Security:Return Supplemental Security Income to Serve Its Originally Intended Population

Savings in Millions of Dollars
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023
  • 2024
  • 2025
  • 2016-2020
  • 2016-2025


Savings based on 2014 CBO budget options, option 12, found in CBO, “Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2015 to 2014“. CBO’s projections go through 2024. We assume the same level of savings for 2025 as projected for both 2023 and 2024.


Technical Notes on Scoring

CBO Baseline

Unless otherwise noted, calculations for savings for each recommendation relies on the most recent Congressional Budget Office baseline, as found in “An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” published August 27, 2014, has been used.

Savings “Totals”

While totals for the five and 10 year savings are provided by section and for the complete set of recommendations, there are two reasons they should not be viewed as representing total savings for The Budget Book.

First, as noted in the introduction, The Heritage Foundation would recommend that the savings realized in the Function 050 Defense section would stay within the Department of Defense to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.

Second, the numbers cannot be deemed to represent the realized savings if every single recommendation were adopted because policy changes made in one program can impact spending levels in other programs.  Thus, the numbers in the table do not reflect any potential interactions between the various policy changes affecting spending or savings.


Heritage Recommendation:

Return Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to serve its originally intended population by ending SSI for children. This proposal would save $12 billion in 2016, and $125 billion over 10 years.


Save $125 trillion by returning SSI to the population it was intended for.

SSI is designed to provide cash assistance to low-income disabled adults who are unable to work, and to the low-income elderly. The program also provides cash assistance to households with children who are functionally disabled and come from low-income homes.

The original intent of SSI was to provide cash assistance for adults who are unable to support themselves because of a disability or because of age. Low-income parents with a disabled child are eligible for cash assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, as well as for benefits from various other means-tested welfare programs, such as Medicaid and food stamps. Today, about 15 percent of SSI recipients are children.

SSI should focus on providing cash assistance to low-income adults who are unable to work, either because of disability or age. Cash SSI benefits for children should be eliminated. However, any medical expenses due to a child’s disability that are not covered by another program, such as Medicaid, should be provided by SSI. Parents of children who are no longer receiving SSI cash benefits would continue to be eligible for a wide variety of means-tested welfare aid, including TANF, the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, and Medicaid.

Save $125 trillion by returning SSI to the population it was intended for.

Contributing Expert

Robert Rector, a leading authority on poverty, welfare programs and immigration in America for three decades, is The Heritage Foundation’s senior research fellow in domestic policy.

See publications by Robert Rector

Robert RectorSenior Research Fellow

Heritage Expert

Rachel Sheffield focuses on welfare, marriage and family, and education as policy analyst in the DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation.

See publications by Rachel Sheffield

Rachel SheffieldPolicy Analyst

Additional Reading