SSI Critical Lifeline for Children With Disabilities Fate Remains Uncertain

1.2 Million Children with Disabilities Receive SSI Benefits

On May 12, 1974, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reported “Fate of SSI, a Critical Lifeline for Children with Disabilities, Remains Uncertain.”

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the only source of federal income support targeted to families caring for children with disabilities, reaching only the lowest-income and most severely impaired children.

Yet, the fate of the program remains uncertain as the Administration and Congressional Republicans search for ways to finance budget, tax, and health proposals. The Administration and Congressional Republicans are looking for ways to provide significant tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and eliminate sequestration cuts in defense spending.

In all, 1.2 million children with disabilities receive SSI benefits, averaging just $650 a month. Without SSI, many more children with disabilities would be in poverty.

SSI benefits also allow parents to provide the care their children need. Caring for a child with a disability requires significant time and energy, requiring parents to take their children to appointments with doctors and therapists, attend meetings at school, meet intensive daily needs, and cope with all-too-common medical emergencies and illnesses.

Though many parents of children receiving SSI work, working fewer hours — or even leaving the workforce — can sometimes be the best decision for families’ health and well-being, particularly if a child’s care needs are high and a parent’s job prospects and earnings potential are low. SSI benefits provide some of America’s most vulnerable families a stable source of income, reducing their insecurity and improving their children’s lives.

While the fate of SSI is uncertain, it is clear that any cuts to the program would jeopardize the only critical lifeline for many families caring for children with disabilities and the progress that’s been made through the program to help these children gain independence.

To make matters worse, SSI cuts could come on top of the $839 billion Medicaid cut in the House-passed health bill, which threatens crucial health care services for children with disabilities — including those that help them succeed in school.


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