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Maintaining and Strengthening Supplemental Security Income for Children with Disabilities

Maintaining and Strengthening Supplemental Security Income for Children with Disabilities

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Supplemental Security should be maintained and strengthened to further increase economic security and opportunity for children and youth with disabilities and to ensure the continued success of family-centered care.
Supplemental Security should be maintained and strengthened to further increase economic security and opportunity for children and youth with disabilities and to ensure the continued success of family-centered care.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Sep 10, 2012
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09/30/2012

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Maintaining and StrengtheningSupplemental Security Income forChildren with Disabilities
By Rebecca Vallas and Shawn Fremstad September 10, 2012
Introduction and summary
Tis year marks he 40h anniversary o Supplemenal Securiy Income. Signed inolaw by Presiden Richard Nixon in 1972, Supplemenal Securiy provides basic incomesupplemens o he elderly and o people wih severe disabiliies. Tis brie ocuses onhe largely unheralded role Supplemenal Securiy has played in improving economicsecuriy and opporuniy or children wih severe disabiliies, while a he same imereducing cosly and harmul insiuionalizaion o children.Supplemenal Securiy is a cenral pillar o our curren sysem o amily-cenered careor children wih severe disabiliies.
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Oher core pillars include Medicaid and heIndividuals wih Disabiliies Educaion Ac. In his sysem, he primary responsibiliy or he well-being o a disabled child ress wih he childs parens and amily. ogeher,hese suppors play a undamenal role in making i possible or children wih disabili-ies o live a home wih heir amilies and in heir communiies. As deailed in his brie, Supplemenal Securiy is an eecive suppor or children wihsevere disabiliies and heir amilies. Research shows ha Supplemenal Securiy: Reduces cosly and harmul insiuionalizaion o children wih severe disabiliies by supporing amily-cenered care Reduces povery and increases economic securiy by oseting some o he exracoss and los parenal income associaed wih raising a child wih a severe disabiliy  Suppors work and educaion or parens and youh Reduces nancial and oher sressors ha can adversely aec parenal well-beingand can lead o separaion or divorce Serves as a criically imporan complemen o oher services provided o children wih disabiliies Provides iniial disabiliy deerminaions ha are exensive and highly accurae
1Center or American Progress | Maintaining and Strengthening Supplemental Security Income or Children with Disabilities
 
Supplemenal Securiy should be mainained and srenghened o urher increaseeconomic securiy and opporuniy or children and youh wih disabiliies. As recom-mended in his brie, his includes enhancing and promoing suppor or work andeducaion; ensuring ha he Social Securiy Adminisraion has he resources i needso conduc eligibiliy reviews so ha Supplemenal Securiy is limied o children whoconinue o mee medical eligibiliy crieria; and srenghening he proamily characero Supplemenal Securiy.Cerain misguided proposals would disempower parens and pu disabled children a amuch greaer risk o losing boh a secure home environmen and he opporuniies oreconomic, social, and amilial inclusion.
2
Tese include cuting Supplemenal Securiy  by convering i o a block gran o saes raher han a direc suppor o amilies, as well as oher policies ha would resul in sae micromanagemen o parens decisionsregarding how o care or heir disabled children.
Who receives Supplemental Security Income?
Disabiliy is a complex and evolving concep. In he mos general sense, a disabiliy isa healh condiion ha signicanly limis a persons aciviy or resrics heir paricipa-ion when compared o individuals wihou a similar healh condiion.
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In he UniedSaes, abou 6.6 million—or 9 percen—o school-age children have aciviy limia-ions ha resul rom one or more chronic healh condiions.
4
Despie ha being hecase, only abou 1.3 million—or 1.6 percen—o U.S. children receive SupplemenalSecuriy Income benes. Te vas majoriy o children wih disabiliies do no qualiy or Supplemenal Securiy eiher because heir disabiliies are no severe enough o meehe Social Securiy Adminisraions sric sandards or heir amilies do no mee heprograms nancial eligibiliy crieria.Under he Social Securiy Adminisraions deniion o childhood disabiliy, a childmay qualiy or Supplemenal Securiy i she or he has a medically deerminablephysical or menal impairmen ha resuls in marked and severe uncional limia-ions and i she or he lives in a household wih very low-income and less han $3,000in asses.
5
According o a 2012 Governmen Accounabiliy Oce repor, he SocialSecuriy Adminisraion has consisenly denied a majoriy o childrens applicaion orSupplemenal Securiy over he pas decade, using his sringen deniion o disabiliy.
6
2Center or American Progress | Maintaining and Strengthening Supplemental Security Income or Children with Disabilities
 
How does the Supplemental Security help children with severedisabilities and their families?
Up unil he 1960s, parens oen placed children wih severe disabiliies ino insiuions. According o a public opinion survey conduced by he Minnesoa Governors Council onDevelopmen Disabiliies in 1962, 71 percen o he public said ha people wih develop-men disabiliies should be cared or in insiuions raher han a home.
7
Since hen, asdiscussed in greaer deail laer in his brie, American atiudes have changed, and we haveshied away rom insiuional care o a sysem o amily-cenered care or children wihdisabiliies. Under his sysem, we expec parens o care or children wih disabiliies ahome, while providing hem wih necessary suppors and services.Supplemenal Securiy serves as a cenral pillar o amily-cenered care. Te modesincome supplemens provided by he program help amilies wih very limied incomesand resources in he ollowing ways: Provides basic necessiies o care or a child wih a disabiliy a home insead o in aninsiuion or anoher, more resricive seting Mees he addiional coss o raising a child wih a physical or menal disabiliy  Replaces some o he amily income los when a paren (or parens) mus say homeor reduce heir hours o care or he child  Assiss in providing disabled children wih a sable, secure home environmen andhe opporuniy or inegraion ino communiy lie, including school as childrenand work as aduls
8
For children who apply or Supplemenal Securiy and are ound eligible by Social Securiy  Adminisraion disabiliy examiners, he income supplemen ha he program provides ismodes. Te maximum monhly supplemen in 2012 is $698, an amoun ha amouns oabou hree-quarers o he monhly povery hreshold or an individual. Beween one-hird and one-hal o children wih severe disabiliies receiving Supplemenal Securiy haveamily incomes below he ederal povery line.
9
I should be noed ha, as wih he povery line, he Supplemenal Securiy bene has been adjused or infaion over ime bu noor he increase in mainsream living sandards.For many amilies wih a disabled child, Supplemenal Securiy acs as a work sup-por. In December 2010, despie near-record-high unemploymen, some 41 perceno children receiving Supplemenal Securiy lived wih an employed paren. Jus adecade earlier, when he unemploymen rae was hal o he curren rae, mos chil-dren receiving Supplemenal Securiy lived wih an employed paren. For disabledchildren living wih a working paren, he supplemenal income amoun is reduced by abou hal o parens earnings (or nearly all o oher income). Reducing he bene by hal, raher han all, o parens earnings helps limi he exen o which work is penal-ized as a resul o means-esing.
Will Bentley
, 10, lives inCovington, Kentucky, withhis parents and sister. Nearlyrom 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 anythingor himsel. He could not eveneed 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

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