Midwest Disability, P.A. Midwest Disability, P.A. Midwest Disability, P.A.

SSDI / SSI Regulations Hinder Those With Disabilities

A recent report from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty states that there are several barriers preventing disabled individuals in the Twin Cities and elsewhere from gaining the financial support they need.

Research from the report shows that of the approximately 40 percent of disabled individuals that are eligible, only 14 percent are actively receiving benefits from programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

These programs offer critical support to individuals with disabilities, allowing them to gain the financial support they need to maintain stable housing and access to health care services. Essential programs like SSI and SSDI keep these individuals from becoming homeless.

One of the reasons there are so many individuals that are eligible for benefits, but are not receiving them, is due to the confusing, difficult and potentially overwhelming process of applying for benefits. SSDI and SSI requirements were created to ensure that only those applicants who meet program guidelines are approved to receive benefits.

One requirement is that the health status of the applicant must be verified by a medical doctor. Yet, many who are disabled do not have access to a physician due to lack of medical insurance and the financial means to visit a clinic. Their only source of medical care may come from a homeless shelter, which is typically staffed with nurse practitioners and physician's assistants. A diagnosis from either a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant is currently insufficient to meet SSI and SSDI programs requirements.

However, this requirement has not kept up with modern medicine. Today, across the country, there are nearly 39 percent more nurse practitioners and physicians assistants practicing general medical care than there are doctors. Licensing and educational requirements for these professionals are stringent. The report from the National Law Center recommends that the requirement of a diagnosis from a medical doctor be changed to include nurse practitioners and physicians assistants.

Project proponents assert that changing the requirements for approval of programs like SSI and SSDI would result in lower costs for the government. Proposed changes could also increase efficiency. There is a need to make benefits available to those individuals who meet program guidelines, but do not have the means to gain the required documentation to prove they are disabled. This small change could begin to lower the number of homeless on Minnesota's streets.

Source: Sacramento Bee, "Report: Denial of Social Security Benefits Perpetuates Homelessness," May 16, 2012

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Midwest Disability, P.A.
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Coon Rapids, MN 55448
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