Mar 3, 2014

House Budget Committee Attacks Child SSI

    The Republican-controlled House Budget Committee has issued The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later, which is, of course, critical of federal anti-poverty efforts. The major part of discussion in the report of programs run by the Social Security Administration has to do with children's disability benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The report tells us that "SSI has become a more general welfare program that in large part targets able-bodied single mothers ..." No, actually it targets sick children. With or without SSI, the mothers of seriously ill children usually aren't working anyway. The question is whether we assist them and their children. The report goes on to note that most child SSI recipients don't go on to work and many don't get a high school diploma. What do you expect? If they're seriously ill as children, shouldn't we expect them to have trouble getting a high school diploma and working as adults? If the evidence were the exact opposite, that child SSI recipients were getting high school diplomas and going to work as adults, wouldn't this report say that this shows that the child SSI recipients weren't that sick?

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Most SSI children are not "seriously ill"--they have ADD, ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, mental retardation, or other mental impairments. Almost none of the families with SSI children spend the SSI money to mitigate or improve the lots of the children. The money allows the parents to work less or not at all. For most, entitlement to SSI affords them Medicaid, but with increased limits under Obamacare, this is certainly much less of a consideration now. Stop perpetuating the myth that most disabled kids have muscular dystrophy, leukemia, or other high-profile diseases. They do not.

Anonymous said...

The report also notes about SSI: "Between 1990 and 2010, the number of recipients under the age of 18 increased from 308,000 to 1.2 million — an increase of nearly 300 percent."

That's astonishing! A 300% increase in any population should alarm everyone! I'd like to know the rate of increase since 1980 or even earlier.

The SSI program is more than a program to supplement the income of families with disabled children. It has become a way of life for far too many, sometimes approaching a "subculture" in many communities.

Eliminate cash benefits immediately, return the income/resource eligibility determinations for SSI to the states, and provide 100% medical care to disabled children.

Family planning will go a much longer way toward eliminating poverty. Imagine if people only had the number of children that they could support? Wow, wouldn't that be a radical?

Anonymous said...

If SSI is for food, clothing and shelter, why do we pay children. Last I checked, they weren't responsible for providing those items to themselves. Their parents should be providing for their needs. Give every child necessary medical assistance, but stop paying them because they are disabled.

Anonymous said...

Attacking help for low-income disabled kids...way to go Republicans. I invite and challenge the above posters to actually go out and see how impoverished families with disabled kids live.

The ridiculously low SSI income and resource limits ensure that only the most destitute qualify. The strict disability definition typically requires medically documented multiple marked impairments in function. Despite what you would like to believe, those families are suffering and very much need the help.

Help for disabled kids is one of the few tax expenditures I can point at and say, "I'm glad the government is spending my money that way." Don't mess with it, unless you are expanding it or making it more efficient.

Anonymous said...

Unless the child has a very serious physical condition requiring constant care and special equipment (much of which would be paid for by Medicaid anyway), the average poor family with a disabled kid probably lives much like all the poor families without disabled kids. Many significant disabilities do not add much expense to the household -- intellectual disabilities, profound learning disabilities require special services at school that are no extra expense to the parent; ADHD requires medication (paid for by Medicaid); mental illness requires medication and treatment (Medicaid); seizures -- medications (Medicaid); severe musculoskeletal impairments -- medication, therapy, possibly assistive devices (Medicaid); respiratory conditions -- medication (Medicaid); cardiac conditions -- medication and surgery (Medicaid).

These families are likely receiving a host of other benefits from various governmental entities.

If you want to be sympathetic towards families with disabled children, you should be looking at the families making $30 or $40K a year who do not qualify for SSI, rent assistance, food stamps, utility assistance, Medicaid (although this might change with Obamacare), etc. They have to support their families while paying for medical care out-of-pocket and without the social safety net provided for the poor (which is not to say that being poor is desirable).

Anonymous said...

I represent a lot of SSI child cases. I always ask the child why they're there. They don't usually know but I usually say "To help out your parents." This really means financially.

Remember, SSI only goes to poor parents w/ disabled children. Not wealthy. Many times taking care of a disabled child is plenty of work and cuts into working full or part time.

Anon 1:44 you have a good point about the 300 percent increase (if this is true). It does seem kind of rising for some reason. Probably there are some welfare mothers out there trying to scam the system.

But remember, it is very hard to win a child SSI case. Most ALJs want a child to meet a listing (or be severely disabled in 2 of the 6 domains). So these are not just passed out like candy.

Republicans always go after the weakest to make cuts. Remember, Paul Ryan wanted to cut health insurance for SSI recipients adult or child. Glad he never made it to office. Just despicable.

Anonymous said...

OMG, where to begin? Too many people spouting off who literally have never met a family with disabled kids whose income is low enough to qualify the kid for benefits. "Medicaid will pay blah blah blah..." Seriously dude? You ever actually tried to get medical care and services under Medicaid? It's always a fight. No cash benefits? Try having a kid who isn't toilet trained and who goes through cases of pull up diapers. Price any lately? Or has an IQ that keeps them at a 3 year old level and so they have terrible 3 tantrums despite being a teenager. So she needs constant adult supervision. Price aids lately? You think between school, medical issues, therapy etc that you can easily work a 40 hour week as a single parent? If my employer hadn't cut me a lot of slack, it's likely that they'd have found my need for taking time off a reason to part ways. No one in their right mind would put up with the SSI rules, medicaid rules for $700 a month. But for some reason,that reality pales to the idea that hordes of adults are pimping out their kids to live like kings on the dole. Wonder how may of these folks hire a lawyer to find out ways to hide assets so medicaid will pay for nursing home care for grandparents or parents. That's a heck of a booming market.

Anonymous said...

@839
Or how about doing it the American way? For 8 hours a day, that "disabled " child is at school getting all sorts of free help. During that time, the parents should be working, not sitting at home collecting a check. The vast majority of kids who are paid are paid solely for mental issues , which can be very dubious. Now, of course $700 isn't much. The goal is to get as many kids signed up. Did you know there are more than 800 families who have at least 6 kids all receiving ssi? Why work when you can sit at home collecting 50000/ year?

Anonymous said...

I am 1:27--I processed and/or reviewed thousands of SSI cases in my career, so I know far more than over 99 percent of the American public as to the truth of the SSI program. Those who criticize my comments have obviously never themselves seen the reality as I have.

Anonymous said...

Too many uninformed complaints here. SSI only goes to the poor families and there is an SSI maximum based on family sized. The total will not bring a family out of poverty. SSI is reduced if other benefits are received. If you have questions ask, but you should not villanize poor and disabled children or their parents.

Susrita Parida said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Several studies have shown that extra family out of pocket medical costs of raising a child with a disability are significantly greater (Paul Shattuck, and others), as well as non-medical costs. That is not really in question if you look at the serious studies.

Anon 8:39 makes an important point I can expand on from two decades of experience. Medicaid and school districts often deny necessary services for disabled children, and low income families do not have the resources to fight them. Legal Aid and pro bono groups get far more requests for help with this kind of problem than they could possibly handle. The result is that a certain percentage of vitally needed services are denied, and the family has to go out of pocket or do without. SSI cash benefits fill a much needed gap here, in addition to the other greater costs associated with raising a child with a disability.

Anonymous said...

11:37 - SSI only goes to the poor families and there is an SSI maximum based on family sized.

If you are going to come on here and complain about the uniformed, please state somethign that is actually true. Could you please tell me what the maximum a family can receive is???? You lose all credibility when you state an obvious factual error.

There is not a maximum for a family. Any member of the family can receive the full benefit as long as they qualify medically and within income/resource limits.

Anonymous said...

I retired as Director of Policy for a very large DDS after 40 years. Among many things I told new examiners - you never want to be poor enough to be eligible for SSI.

Anonymous said...

As 718 stated there's is NO family cap on the number of people who can get SSI. So multiply $700 times all the people in your family who get approved, and that,s your monthly income. There is one family who has 19 members all getting ssi. Yes that,s $13,000 per month.

Anonymous said...

We should avoid the fallacy of composition - extrapolate one/ a few to all. The demographics of the SSI population are dismal. I'm the 40 year DDS person above.

Anonymous said...

As an ALJ who has heard far too many age 18 redeterminations, I can say that the frustrating aspect of child's SSI is that it is obvious when we revisit these claims that the money was not used to benefit the child or address the issues rasied by disability. The claimants at age 18 redets that I see are almost uniformly children who were put on for mental issues such as ADHD and ODD, perhaps low IQ, and have become school drop outs who have become teenaged parents (not unusual to see a 20 year old parent of two) and have never made any atempt to work, get a driver's license, supprt their children,or generally join in the adult world. I think a huge part of the reason why is that society has told them from an early age that they are "disabled" and they are essentially given up on by parents and by schools and this is internalized. I think this is what the Republican report was getting at in a less-than-clear fashion and, much as I am loathe to agree with anything any Republican says, there is something to this. Yes, I have seen exceptions--the autistic child whose parents worked with him to get him a part time job and enrolled in community college; the deaf child who was in nursing school--but the reality is that in most of these claims, I can't see that the SSI payments made a differnce in the child's life. I don't have an answer for this and I am not sure that the answer is to do away with the program, but there are days when I sure think we should.

Anonymous said...

As a ssdi beneficiary,minors should not receive cash payments. Disability payments is NOT solely about having an impairment. It's about having an impairment and replacing income lost from the proper ability to sustain 8 hours a day and 5 days a week employment or similar situation. No child should receive cash benefits just health insurance only

Anonymous said...

Anyone who spends time with SSI children cases can give anecdotal stories that support both sides of this argument: SSI is paid only to the seriously disabled children and parents are unable to hold jobs because of it or SSI is used to prop up a low income family and there are many parents who do see their disabled children as a $721 a month cash cow since they have run out of their own welfare benefits but still get food stamps and cheap subsidized rent.

Another overhaul of SSI for children is probably overdue, but it will also have fallout and will be flawed. More oversight over the parents who abuse the system (nothing as stupidly designed as dedicated accounts) but that would require more staff which would turn SSA into a case management agency with social workers rather than claims reps.

Anonymous said...

As a young SSI claims rep many years ago I interviewed a payee mom who had to account for a large retro payment from a ALJ allowance. She did not want to account for or discuss this money. "this is my money" etc. Finally found out she and her kids went to, yes, Disneyworld using the retro funds. As a young CR I could not afford such a trip with my family. Real wake up call about the soft corruption in SSI.

Anonymous said...

As a young SSI claims rep many years ago I interviewed a payee mom who had to account for a large retro payment from a ALJ allowance. She did not want to account for or discuss this money. "this is my money" etc. Finally found out she and her kids went to, yes, Disneyworld using the retro funds. As a young CR I could not afford such a trip with my family. Real wake up call about the soft corruption in SSI.

Anonymous said...

ALJs only see about 5% of child SSI cases (check SSA/ORES publications for the numbers). With all due respect to the ALJs posting here, the shouldn't extrapolate their experiences to the entire SSI population. Only the "marginal" cases are going to ever get to that level, and one can reasonable expect a good portion of them to have less severe impairments than the majority of DDS-awarded children.

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