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Include Puerto Rico In Ssi Program

(Mr. PIERLUISI asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)

None Pedro Pierluisi

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, today I introduced legislation that would extend the SSI program to Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, and Guam.

SSI provides cash assistance to blind, disabled, or elderly individuals who have limited or no income. Although SSI applies in the States, it does not apply in Puerto Rico, which instead receives a block grant to assist its most vulnerable residents.

Of all the disparities that Puerto Rico faces because of its territory status, this is perhaps the most harmful. Puerto Rico's annual grant is about $35 million. By contrast, the Nation's poorest State, with almost 1 million fewer residents, received over $740 million in SSI funding in 2010.

While in the States beneficiaries receive about $500 each month, Puerto Rico residents receive only $70. Residents of Puerto Rico are American citizens, but when it comes to SSI, their citizenship is second class.

I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will support this bill.