From Improving Access: Expanding Acceptable Medical Sources for the Social Security Administration Disability Determination Process, a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty:
Currently, the process for obtaining SSI [Supplemental Security Income] and SSDI [Social Security Disability Insurance] can be cumbersome and, too often, there are unnecessary delays. Allowing nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and licensed clinical social workers to provide diagnostic evidence of certain medical conditions would streamline the process for obtaining benefits, ensuring that eligible individuals gain access to these critical benefits in a timely manner.
For individuals who are homeless, such expansion would have an especially meaningful impact. Currently, many people who are homeless and who are generally uninsured have great difficulty accessing assessment, treatment, and care from physicians and, for mental health problems, psychologists and psychiatrists. Programs and services dedicated to serving homeless people are increasingly overwhelmed by the tremendous need for treatment and services, and many programs cannot meet this rising demand.This will only get poor people so far. There's no way you can get around it. Decision-makers aren't going to give as much weight to CNAs, PAs and LCSWs as to MDs.
I represent a fair number of homeless people. Lack of access to medical care is a huge problem for this population. So many of these people would get on disability benefits quickly if they just had medical insurance. I expect that a lot of people who work at Social Security would agree. Obamacare should do that before long if the Supreme Court doesn't get in the way.