There is a government program called the Supplemental Security Income (SSI), that is designed to provide a monthly financial benefit to people who are unable to work because of a disability. There are a lot of parents of children who have special needs that need the help this program provides. The SSI program is being scrutinized by lawmakers who are concerned about fraud and abuse of the program.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program for children has started getting some criticism in Congress. In December of 2010, The Boston Globe did a series that called SSI “The Other Welfare”.
This series followed several families who had children that were enrolled in the program. The Boston Globe felt that the children featured in the program had “questionable” eligibility. Another controversial thing that was presented in the series was that several of the families believed that in order for their child to qualify for SSI, the parents had to put their child on a psychotropic form of medication.
As a result of watching this series, some lawmakers have requested that the Government Accountability Office do an investigation on the children’s SSI program. The result of that investigation is expected to be released before the end of 2011. The purpose of the investigation is to uncover whatever fraud or abuse is happening in regards to SSI.
Right now, SSI is providing the families of 1.2 million children from low-income families with cash assistance and Medicaid. The children in this program have severe disabilities. Their parents would be unable to pay for the medical care that these children require without the help from SSI.
Unfortunately, there are Republicans in Congress who are unwilling to wait to see what the results of the study by the Government Accountability Office finds. These lawmakers have already assumed that they know what the answer will be. As a result, they are pushing to limit the SSI benefits that families of children with special needs can receive.
Specifically, this group feels that SSI should be reduced by $1.4 billion over ten years. They believe this will reduce the “incentive” for parents who “place their children on medication solely to receive SSI benefits”. They did not mention ADHD, but this is presumably the disorder that is being referred to.
On the other side, we have a group of sixteen of the largest advocacy groups for children and adults with mental illness. It includes the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder. They are intending to lobby Congress to protect the SSI program for kids.
Parents who have children that are receiving SSI benefits need to be aware of what is going on. You could end up losing that financial assistance in the very near future. Obviously, if that happens, it is going to have some very negative effects on children who have special needs.
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