How does the Supplemental Security help children with severedisabilities and their families?
Up unil he 1960s, parens oen placed children wih severe disabiliies ino insiuions. According o a public opinion survey conduced by he Minnesoa Governors Council onDevelopmen Disabiliies in 1962, 71 percen o he public said ha people wih develop-men disabiliies should be cared or in insiuions raher han a home.
Since hen, asdiscussed in greaer deail laer in his brie, American atiudes have changed, and we haveshied away rom insiuional care o a sysem o amily-cenered care or children wihdisabiliies. Under his sysem, we expec parens o care or children wih disabiliies ahome, while providing hem wih necessary suppors and services.Supplemenal Securiy serves as a cenral pillar o amily-cenered care. Te modesincome supplemens provided by he program help amilies wih very limied incomesand resources in he ollowing ways: –Provides basic necessiies o care or a child wih a disabiliy a home insead o in aninsiuion or anoher, more resricive seting –Mees he addiional coss o raising a child wih a physical or menal disabiliy –Replaces some o he amily income los when a paren (or parens) mus say homeor reduce heir hours o care or he child – Assiss in providing disabled children wih a sable, secure home environmen andhe opporuniy or inegraion ino communiy lie, including school as childrenand work as aduls
For children who apply or Supplemenal Securiy and are ound eligible by Social Securiy Adminisraion disabiliy examiners, he income supplemen ha he program provides ismodes. Te maximum monhly supplemen in 2012 is $698, an amoun ha amouns oabou hree-quarers o he monhly povery hreshold or an individual. Beween one-hird and one-hal o children wih severe disabiliies receiving Supplemenal Securiy haveamily incomes below he ederal povery line.
I should be noed ha, as wih he povery line, he Supplemenal Securiy bene has been adjused or infaion over ime bu noor he increase in mainsream living sandards.For many amilies wih a disabled child, Supplemenal Securiy acs as a work sup-por. In December 2010, despie near-record-high unemploymen, some 41 perceno children receiving Supplemenal Securiy lived wih an employed paren. Jus adecade earlier, when he unemploymen rae was hal o he curren rae, mos chil-dren receiving Supplemenal Securiy lived wih an employed paren. For disabledchildren living wih a working paren, he supplemenal income amoun is reduced by abou hal o parens earnings (or nearly all o oher income). Reducing he bene by hal, raher han all, o parens earnings helps limi he exen o which work is penal-ized as a resul o means-esing.
, 10, lives inCovington, Kentucky, withhis parents and sister. Nearlyrom birth, his parents knewsomething was wrong. Hewas slow in learning to speak and learned to sign so thathe could communicate. Hehad requent, violent seizures.An MRI eventually showedlesions on his brain. Hestruggles with anxiety andhas memory problems. Hismother Katie was orced toshut down her small businessso that she could stay homewith Will, whose care becamea ull-time job. Katie said, “Isurrendered my career so thatWill’s needs were met. SSI al-lows us to ocus on what Willneeds … At one time, Willwas unable to do anythingor himsel. He could not eveneed himsel. Now he canread and zip his own jacket.For a parent with a child witha disability, the support thatcomes rom SSI is a dreamcome true.”
3Center or American Progress | Maintaining and Strengthening Supplemental Security Income or Children with Disabilities