The Supplemental Security Income program has been providing basic yet critical benefits to Oregon children with severe disabilities for 40 years now. While monthly SSI payments may not be great, the income supplements have given countless families here a degree of economic security they would not have had otherwise, and disabled children a much greater range of opportunities to improve their quality of life.
Unfortunately (just like the Social Security Disability Insurance program), the value and integrity of the Supplemental Security program has been seriously questioned by grandstanding politicians, self-described taxpayer watchdogs and media pundits in the last several months.
While those critics may sound utterly convincing in a vacuum, they conveniently ignore the abundance of research showing that the SSI program:
- Saves money by supporting family-centered care for children with severe disabilities who would otherwise be harmfully and expensively institutionalized
- Reduces poverty by covering some of the extra costs and income losses that go hand-in-hand with raising severely disabled children
- Promotes work for parents and disabled children alike
- Reduces economic insecurity and other stressful problems that can diminish parenting skills and lead to divorce
- Complements other services provided to children with disabilities
Having said all that, analysts at the Center for American Progress recently suggested some changes that could make the SSI program even more effective than it already is.
Those changes include: expanding access to vocational education and rehabilitation services for children nearing adulthood; increasing support for enhancements or innovations aimed at improving employment outcomes for disabled children; and providing the Social Security Administration with the funds it needs to conduct timely disability reviews on a continuing basis (which are estimated to yield $10 or more in savings for every $1 spent).
Perhaps the most important change (and the one most likely to spark controversy) contained in the CAP’s brief, however, is the suggestion that the Supplemental Security Income program’s asset limit of $2,000 per individual and $3,000 per married couple be raised to $10,000 (which, in our view at least, would more accurately account for inflation over the last 40 years and also make a tremendous difference for Oregon families).
Source: Center for American Progress, “Maintaining and Strengthening Supplemental Security Income for Children with Disabilities,” Rebecca Vallas and Shawn Fremstad, Sept. 10, 2012