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Congress scrutinizes SSI for children

After a series of articles exposed weaknesses and flaws in the children's Supplemental Security Income program, Congress is looking at the children's SSI program more closely.

The articles, published by a widely read daily newspaper, highlighted what some parents are willing to do to secure monthly disability benefits. In many cases, parents were willing to medicate their children in order to receive Supplemental Security Income. The ultimate suggestion was that some families are viewing children's SSI as a type of welfare instead of support for low-income families with children in need.

The negative publicity attracted by these articles, as well as the new scrutiny from Congress, has some children's advocates worried. They are primarily concerned that the fraud committed by a small portion of parents will cause those truly in need in Pennsylvania and across the country to go without.

Federal investigators, using their preliminary findings, told members of the U.S. House of Representatives that the number of children diagnosed with mental disabilities like autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder that are receiving SSI benefits is increasing. Whether or not the increased benefits follow a general increase in diagnoses was not revealed. While periodic review of cases is supposed to occur on a somewhat regular basis to ensure continued coverage is warranted, that has been found to be an uncommon occurrence.

A director from the Government Accountability Office said accurately diagnosing some mental disabilities is a complex and often subjective process, which open it up for fraud and abuse. A full report from the Government Accountability Office is expected in April.

Source: Disability Scoop, "Congress Puts Children's SSI Under The Microscope," Shaun Heasley, Oct. 28, 2011

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