By The Star Staff
As part of his agenda in the U.S. capital, at-large Rep. José Enrique “Quiquito” Meléndez Ortiz, who is now a candidate for resident commissioner, will be promoting the inclusion of Puerto Rico in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
“The fight for statehood is a fight for equality,” the New Progressive Party legislator said. “Our goal is for the Puerto Rican family to feel the benefits of statehood. There is a long list of programs that are not implemented on our island or are only half-done due to the colonial condition that we have lived in for more than 125 years. This affects the quality of life of our people, as well as the social and economic development of families. We are going to work on this issue now.”
SSI is a federal program that provides additional Social Security benefits to people who are blind and/or otherwise disabled, as well as to seniors with low or no income. It also provides hospitalization services and other necessary health assistance.
“An example of that unequal treatment of U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico is the incomplete application of Social Security, as is the case with SSI,” Meléndez Ortiz said. “The average beneficiary in the states of the union receives about $590 per month. That level of binary assistance provides significant support to our vulnerable people. Puerto Rico, if this program is implemented, could receive up to $1.95 billion annually, according to data from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and published in 2014.”