Social Security Increases and Medi-Cal Expansion

In October, the Social Security Administration announced that it would institute an 8.7 percent increase in all Social Security cash benefits and Supplemental Security Income. This cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, which takes effect this month, is meant to counter the soaring cost of everyday expenses due to inflation. For people on fixed income, as many people who receive Social Security or SSI are, this increase will help them continue to put food on their table and pay their bills. This is Social Security’s largest COLA increase since 1981 and it will impact over 72 million Americans.

This got us thinking about other government benefit programs here in California that are either increasing benefits and services for people with disabilities and older adults or expanding eligibility criteria to enable more people to qualify.

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One example is Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program. In July 2022, the state increased the asset limit for Medi-Cal from $2,000 to $130,000 for individuals and from $3,000 to $195,000 for a couple, and in 2024, these Medi-Cal asset limits will be eliminated entirely. We also saw the state expand Medi-Cal eligibility to some undocumented immigrants here in California last year.

To talk more about these changes and the impacts they will have on people with disabilities and older adults, we’re joined by a roundtable of guests. Ted Mumford is a staff attorney with Legal Services of Northern California, an organization that provides free legal services to qualifying low-income individuals with the goal of empowering them to identify and defeat the causes and effects of poverty. And we’re also joined by Denise Miller and Samuel Jain from Disability Rights California, the protection and advocacy organization for people with disabilities in the state.