The Children’s Supplemental Security Income program was established as a safety net to help parents of children who are considered blind or disabled. Today, an estimated $10 billion dollars in SSI benefits are paid out annually to qualifying children under the age of 18 throughout the country and in states such as Oregon.
A 50 percent increase in program participants over the past decade, however, has prompted calls for increased scrutiny of participant qualifications by many who tout allegations of rampant fraud. Program officials now say a full investigation by the Institute of Medicine will likely begin within the next six months. The majority of these allegations, stem from what many consider the over-medication of young school-age children for behavioral problems such as attention deficient disorder which qualifies as a disability.
While there is no question that in recent years the instances of children diagnosed with disabilities such as A.D.D. has grown significantly, the potential for increased scrutiny is a major cause of concern for the 1.2 million low income families of children who have a legitimate disability.
SSI benefits pay out an average of $8,000 annually to qualifying participants and many, especially those in low income families, have come to rely heavily upon these monthly benefits. Hoping to ease the minds of worried parents whose children are legitimate program participants, the Social Security Commissioner expressed concern for ensuring those who qualify and need benefits continue to receive them.
As findings from the planned study by the Institute of Medicine are made public, parents of children who currently receive SSI benefits should keep informed of any changes to the qualifying process.
Source: WSHM-TV, “Officials meet in Springfield to discuss flaws in children’s SSI,” Samantha Lavien, Feb. 20, 2012