Social Security is seeking a contractor to do the following over a 36 month time period:
- Examine how SSI [Supplemental Security Income] disability cash payments for children affect children and their families.
- Compare national trends in diagnosing mental disorders (including, but not limited to, ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder], autism, bipolar illness, depression, and learning disorders) and speech/language disorders in children to trends in the SSI disability program for children.
- Investigate the use of prescription medications for children with mental disorders.
- Identify whether the receipt of SSI payments creates an unintended culture of dependence, particularly among adolescent recipients.
- Evaluate the effect of SSA's [Social Security Administration's] "treating source" rule.
The request for proposals goes on to say that the contractor chosen will:
- Examine and evaluate the rise in the number of children on SSI, and compare to the national diagnostic trends in children with mental disorders (including, but not limited to, ADHD, autism, bipolar illness, depression, learning disorders) and speech/language disorders.
- Identify factors (such as national poverty levels, access to health care, destigmatizing mental illness, changes in special education programs) that correlate with, or cause a, rise in the number of children on SSI with mental disorders and speech/language disorders.
- Identify the appropriate and effective treatment protocols for mental disorders and speech/language disorders in children, and determine to what extent the treatment for these disorders in SSI children is consistent with national treatment trends.
- Identify which mental disorders and speech/language disorders are amenable to treatment and subject to improving with age.
- Investigate the treatment of mental disorders for children on SSI.
- Are medications prescribed improperly for this population?
- Are physicians under pressure (explicit or implicit) to "help families make their case for" SSI payments?
- Evaluate whether SSA's medical source/treating source rules leave the SSI disability program for children vulnerable to manipulation or abuse.
- Evaluate to what extent, if any, the receipt of SSI cash payments creates a "culture of dependence" among children with disabilities and their families.
- Determine the relationship, if any, between a child's receipt of SSI cash payments and future school and work success.
And Social Security wants the contractor to:
Organize outreach conferences with transcription services to provide a neutral ground for debate and analysis of emerging issues related to the evaluation of disability in children, such as the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders and speech/language disorders, and assessment of functional limitations, identified during the contract's period of performance (as approved by SSA) to be held in the Baltimore or Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.