Equally American wrote to Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Massachusetts) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas) of the House Committee on Ways and Means to urge their support for including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa in the Supplemental Security Income program.
“The Supplemental Security Income program is a crucial lifeline for disabled, blind, and low-income adults and children throughout the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands,” said Neil Weare, President of Equally American, a nonpartisan public interest organization that works to advance equality and voting rights in U.S. territories. “But otherwise eligible Americans living in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa are arbitrarily excluded from accessing SSI benefits,” Weare continued. “That is not just unfair and discriminatory, it is unconstitutional,” Weare added.
“As the First Circuit recently held, there is no rational basis for categorically excluding otherwise eligible Americans from the SSI program simply because they live in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, or American Samoa,” Weare continued. “But Congress should not wait for the Supreme Court to affirm the First Circuit’s opinion,” Weare said.
“Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico) has proposed a bill to include Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa in the SSI program,” Weare noted. “Equally American applauds her bi-partisan leadership alongside her colleagues from each of the territories and urges Congress to enact this crucial legislation as soon as possible. Lives literally depend on it,” Weare concluded.