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letters | SSI benefits program now outstrips welfare

While review would help, program still vital for needy families

As clinicians and researchers serving low-income families of children with disabilities, we are concerned with some of the issues raised in “Aid to disabled children now outstrips welfare” (Page A1, Aug. 28).

Supplemental Security Income helps low-income children with disabilities live at home, prevents expensive institutionalization, facilitates productivity into adulthood, and partially offsets extensive specialized expenses and parental lost wages. SSI regulations support work.

Our research and that of others report employment in one-third of single-parent and two-thirds of two-parent households that receive child SSI. Nonetheless, given these children’s expenses, even working parents who receive these benefits are more likely to experience difficulties providing basic needs to all family members.

While SSI participation predictably increased with recent economic downturns and increases in numbers of children diagnosed with disabilities across all economic strata, the program has stringent financial and disability eligibility criteria. The child SSI application rejection rate is 60 percent. As parents or clinicians who fill out extensive SSI paperwork can attest, the complex application process is long, and SSI is hardly easy money.

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We agree that implementation of a consistent, reasonable review process would save SSI money. However, as clinicians working every day with many of these families, we believe that this program is crucial for parents to balance the provision of basic family needs while providing vital care for children with disabilities.

Dr. Jack Maypole
Ruth Rose-Jacobs
Boston University
School of Medicine
Boston Medical Center
Boston