SSI Benefits for Children at Risk of Being Eliminated
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Jul 31, 2017
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a valuable resource for children across the United States who are disabled. Unfortunately, House Republicans have proposed entitlement cuts, which could very well threaten the SSI lifeline that these children depend upon.
Supplement Security Income Supports Thousands of Children with Disabilities
Supplemental Security Income is a program that is funded by the U.S. government, and provides benefits in the form of monthly cash payments and Medicaid to those who are disabled and of little income or resources. SSI is the only source of income support that is directly targeted at families who are caring for children with disabilities. Many of the disabled children who benefit from SSI have severe conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism, blindness, or Down syndrome.
According to a May 2017 report published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, SSI is a critical aspect of lifting the families of disabled children out of poverty. To be sure, the report indicates that 1.2 million children with disabilities receive SSI benefits (this is confirmed by a March 2017 report published by the Social Security Administration). It is estimated that about 200,000 of the child beneficiaries have been lifted to about 50 percent of the poverty line as a direct result of their monthly SSI benefits.
The benefits of SSI are myriad; while Medicaid alone can help many families of disabled children receive the healthcare assistance that is necessary for children’s care, only SSI provides income assistance. Income assistance allows for parents to seek better circumstances for their children, provide more stability in the home, work fewer hours to provide direct care for children, and overall reduces financial insecurity, which can place a strain on parents and children alike.
Plans to Cut Entitlements
Despite the fact that SSI is a lifeline for children with disabilities – and is only being used by a mere 1.2 percent of children in the United States; criteria for qualifying for SSI benefits are quite strict – Republican lawmakers have suggested major entitlement cuts. To be sure, House Republicans have proposed a plan that would completely eliminate Supplemental Security Income benefits for disabled children of low-income families. Talking about the “Better Way” plan, the budget plan proposed by Republicans, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stated that he believes that services should be provided in lieu of income assistance. What Speaker Ryan fails to acknowledge, however, is that income benefits help parents to account for lost income when one parent needs to stay home and care for a disabled child, or replace income that is spent on childcare needs (amongst other things).
And SSI is not the only entitlement program that Republicans want to cut or eliminate – in order to bolster the defense budget, the following programs would be at risk of cuts (some cuts are quite massive, and have been aggressively supported by certain Republicans):
- Nutrition assistance;
- Affordable housing;
- SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)/food stamps;
- Services for adults and children with disabilities;
- Vocational rehabilitation programs; and
In regards to Medicaid, the House bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (which passed the House) would cut $839 million from the program. This, on top of SSI and other social services cuts, could leave many disabled children and their parents with nowhere to turn and with serious questions about their economic well being and ability to seek health services they desperately need.
SSI Needs to Stay
The Supplemental Security Income program is not a frivolous government expenditure, and should not be viewed as such. Not only is the criteria for eligibility strict, with the Social Security Administration conducting thorough reviews, but the number of children who receive SSI benefits has stabilized, and is not growing at an alarmingly or unsustainable rate.
Research shows that when the income of impoverished families is increased, children within those families have better lives in the future, characterized by more educational opportunities, greater health, and more prospects for employment. In fact, evidence shows that when children from low-income families receive a financial boost, these children perform better in school, and even average more income as adults than do their non-income-supported-family counterparts. When more people are working and earning a living income, fewer people are using government benefits, fewer crimes are being committed, and more people are reinvesting in the American economy – this is win-win situation for individuals and society as a whole.
Remember, these statistics apply to low income children; children who are both low income and disabled face even more obstacles in life. Parents of these children often have few options – appointments with doctors and therapists, school meetings, emergencies, and care for daily needs take time and effort, and working out of the home may not be a possible pursuit. However, even in face of these challenges, many parents of disabled children do work. In fact, ⅔ of children in families who receive SSI benefits and are of two-parent households have at least one parent who works, and more than ⅓ of parents of disabled children in one-parent families work. When faced with hard choices, parents are often doing everything they can to provide for their children; this is something that those proposing entitlement cuts need to realize.
Our Lawyers Support Critical SSI Benefits for Children
At the law offices of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., our lawyers strongly support critical SSI benefits for children and their families. As Philadelphia personal injury lawyers who have represented those in our state who have suffered serious disabilities, we have seen firsthand what a disabling condition can mean for a child and their family. Our lawyers will continue to advocate for SSI and other disability benefits in our country.
If your child has suffered a disability as a result of another party’s negligence, our lawyers may be able to help your family. We want to meet with you to discuss the cause of disability today and help you understand your legal options. Contact us now for a free consultation.