Jan 18, 2011

Childrens' Benefits Draw Scrutiny

From the Boston Globe:
Key members of Congress are demanding an investigation into whether a fast-growing, $10 billion federal disability program designed to serve poor disabled children is flawed in multiple ways, including the possibility that it creates incentives for families to put those children on psychiatric drugs.

A top member of the US House Ways and Means Committee, along with Representative Richard Neal and Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, issued a letter asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate the striking rise in the number of children receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits, or SSI, for behavioral and mental issues such as attention deficit disorders and depression, and whether low-income families are tempted to put their youngsters on psychiatric drugs “to improve their chances’’ of qualifying. It also asked investigators to examine whether the Social Security Administration, which runs the program, can effectively screen new recipients and adequately determine when children’s conditions have improved to the point that they are no longer eligible for benefits.


Anonymous said...

Children disability benefits is an area where social security can find appropriate savings.

People under the age of 18(minors)are the responsbility of the parent and DO NOT deserve cash benefits unless they are legally able to engage in sga(40hr)work but can't due to a disability.

Alot!!! of savings can be found with the benefits of minors.

Anonymous said...

If the program were changed to where a child found disabled were granted a medical card and nothing else, you would find more children getting the medical care they needed and fewer fraudulent claims filed. Kids realize when they are the source of income for the family and feel pressure to fail to keep the checks coming. Many teens lose the opportunity to try to work as teenagers, as the checks cannot be put at risk.

Anonymous said...

Congressional scrutiny of Childhood SSI is long, long overdue.

Anonymous said...

A2 and 3 are right on. Children do not contribute to family income, which is why disabled kids should qualify for Medicaid only to assist the family with the extra costs associated with their care. Paying checks only increases the likelihood of fraud.

Anonymous said...

Where are these ALJ's that grant benefits on ADD ???

In our area, for the most part, ALJ's roll their eyes at a Child's ADD csse.

We don't take children's mental cases unless there is some documented psychosis.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous #5, child cases in general get tremendous scrutiny in my area. Thus, I won't take a child's case unless they are receiving real mental health treatment, not just getting meds from a pediatrician or family doctor.

I tell parents to go and get their kid treatment - I'm not telling them to go medicate their kids. Preferably, they'll get the entire range of mental health treatment, along with special ed services or a written accommodation plan in school. Unfortunately, for kids as well as adults, mental health treatment often consists of nothing but medication, with few other services.

Anonymous said...

Some anonymous posters don't seem to realize the nature of SSI. It is for very poor families who don't have the resources to properly care for their disabled child. A child living at home is clearly the responsibility of the parent, and the parent's income and resources are considered in determining the SSI eligibility of the child. Families who have the resources are expected to care for the child and they do not get SSI. Some disabled children are better cared for in facilities outside the home and SSI helps fund this care. While some attention needs to be paid to making accurate disability decisions, and even clarifying or tightening up the rules for disability determinations, it is not automatically wasteful to provide some support to our poorest families who need assistance with the care of their disabled child.

Anonymous said...

I posted the comment#1

The SSA needs to evaluate these minors under adult listings or vocational criteria. If a child would meet the adult definiton of disability then the child should receive benefits otherwise the
program is wasteful. If the SSA is looking to cut/save money,i suggest start with minor benefits.

Anonymous said...

Those criticizing payments to children for SSI are just misinformed. It is very difficult to get any child SSI benes, especially mental health. If adults can get SSI for mental health problems, why not children?

If you want to attack whether anybody should get SSI benes, then go at it. But targeting children just b/c they have not contributed to the vast SSA treasury fund is ludicrous.

Where does it stop?

Anonymous said...

SSI isn't paid from the trust funds. It's paid out of general revenues. SSA administers the program.

Anonymous said...

We perfectly understand the nature of SSI. It is a program that is destroying the lives of a lot of children whose parents are using them for a meal ticket. Take a look at any family with a child on SSI, and there is a 90+% chance you will find that every single child in that family has filed for SSI, often multiple times. We have several families in our area with 10 or more minor kids drawing SSI. In fact, I can name four families right off the top of my head where the last four generations are receiving. It is truly sickening.

It is not difficult to get children approved for SSI, because the families file again and again again and again without penalty until they eventually win the lottery and get them approved.

What neither of you seem to understand how much fraud and abuse exists for children. These useless scum of parents are destroying their children's lives for a free meal ticket.

Want to improve the lives of children on SSI? Take the money out of the system and fund a health program that actually covers and treats the issues that those kids have. Removing the money will also cause the freeloaders to loose interest, so it is a win-win scenario.

Anonymous said...

we should also remember that medicaid doesn't pay for full cost for the drugs these kids need. i would like to see a voucher plan put in please for the meds. and full health care but no money. i meand voucher like wic has for milk and formula aimee

Anonymous said...

There can be standards and regs written into the children's SSI program that will target the real needs. For one, the income limits for the parents are quite high. The limit could be lowered. Next, the program could be redesigned in some way to provide benefits that will actually benefit the parent who has an impediment to work due to the child's disability. To me, the focus of the program should be to allow the family with a disabled child to obtain not only medical care but decent housing and other services that may not be covered by Medicaid. Many parents lose jobs due to the needs of their kids - taking a kid with asthma to the ER or to the doctor multiple times during a year can cause this, for example. Or having to constantly be at the child's school because of the behavior problems that the school won't or can't deal with.

Twenty years ago, before the rise of the SCHIP programs, I worked in a non-profit representing kids with developmental disabilities and their parents. Back then, getting a child on SSI was vital because that was the only way to qualify for Medicaid. Parents would structure their work lives and other income streams (like child support payments) to ensure that the child got even $1.00 of SSI, to retain Medicaid. That is no longer the case, so I agree that there is a lesser need for every disabled child to have SSI.

And I am uncomfortable with parents who are so eager to hang a "disability" label on their kids. Some parents genuinely feel that it's just not normal for a child to be medicated in order to function, but others are leveraging their children's impairments into an income stream.

I don't know the answer, but wanted to throw out some additional considerations. I overall do agree that if Congress wants some easy places to cut, this is one of them.