SSI Benefits for Children Questioned by Congress Members

According to the Boston Globe, key members of Congress are asking for an investigation into disabled children’s ability to receive Supplemental Security Income benefits or SSI. Congress members such as Representative Richard Neal and Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts claim the benefit receipt is n the rise in the number of children receiving SSI for behavioral and mental issues. Congress members claim low-income families may be tempted to put their children with attention deficit disorders and depression on psychiatric drugs to improve their chances of qualifying.

The SSI benefit system may be flawed and may be creating incentives for families to put their children on psychiatric drugs in order to improve chances for disability payments.

The program started in 1972 for children with severe physical disabilities, but now serves largely for youngsters diagnosed with behavioral, learning and mental disorders. 640,000 children who receive SSI benefits qualify because of mental disabilities, which is 53 percent of children enrolled in the program. Children who receive SSI also may qualify for Medicaid coverage and $700 a month in cash. Delayed speech and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are the top reasons of why claimants received benefits.

The Boston Globe raises allegations that the program may discourage teenagers from taking up part-time jobs as income earnings jeopardize SSI benefit payments. The Congress is looking to investigate the Social Security program and SSI qualifications for disabled children, as well as to see if the SSA has an effective ability to screen and adequately determine when children’s conditions improve to the point of no longer requiring SSI benefits.

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