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Youth and Transition to Work: Changing Benefit Rules to Support Young People With Disabilities Disability Research Institute 2004 Symposium March 16, 2004. Eileen P. Sweeney Senior Fellow Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 820 First Street, N.E., Suite 510 Washington, DC 20002
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Basically, all older children/young adults with
disabilities are our target population. Children who:
• receive SSI, or
• who are eligible for IDEA services to age 22.
There’s not much sense in picking one of these subgroups over another – all need the opportunities to maximize their potential and could become Social Security or SSI recipients as young adults, even if they are not current beneficiaries.
• Values giving youth with disabilities the tools to succeed;
• Wants to provide the work supports and incentives that will assist
people with disabilities to work and reduce or eliminate their need for
• Generally, may not understand that the interactions and complexities
of various program rules can have the exact opposite result from those
it intends for these young people.
While there are many good steps that can
be taken to improve treatment of earned
income, PASS and IRWE for young
people, and make sense of the Section 301
rules — and these steps should be taken as soon
as possible — we need even bolder steps.
What are these bold steps?
• Guarantee Medicaid to individuals who have received SSI as a child or young adult, even if they lose SSI due to medical improvement or SGA.
• Provide that young adults with disabilities will be eligible for Medicaid, regardless of whether they are working and regardless of whether they have ever received SSI, with Medicaid being the last payor after work-based or other health insurance has been tapped.
• Tell parents that a child’s work efforts may have eligibility implications when a CDR occurs (or provide that there will be no CDRs until age 18). This information should be shared regularly in writing and in meetings.
• Better, move the current review at age 18 to age 22, to parallel the time frames in IDEA and Social Security DAC/CDB benefits. Or, simply eliminate it — but, this seems politically unlikely at this time.
Don’t count any income a child earns in
calculating the amount of or eligibility for SSI
(and allow all such earnings to be saved and
not counted against the resource level).
Provide that, if there is evidence that a person has
a disability that began prior to age 22, and the
person later needs the income assistance provided
by DAC/ CDB benefits because the person can not
work, SGA (either prior to or since age 22) against
that person will not be a factor in the determination
Allow families to secure a protective filing status for their
child with a disability – SSA could allow families to provide
SSA with the evidence that their child has a disabling
condition prior to age 22 and receive a statement that,
should the person ever need the DAC/CDB benefits
because of inability to work, SSA will grant those benefits.
SSA’s ongoing move to electronic files would facilitate such
a process and help to ensure records are available years
later when needed.
These staff would serve as case managers for each child with disabilities (beginning at age 12? 14?) to:
• Work with the child and family to design and implement a plan to maximize the child’s potential over the next few years – education (secondary and post-secondary), vocational rehab, on the job training, additional medical care
• Assure parents that SSI and Social Security rules will not jeopardize the child’s current or future eligibility for Medicaid (and change the rules to guarantee this)
• Young people maximizing their potential
• Greater parental peace of mind and openness to supporting bolder choices by their children
• A simple and encouraging message: nothing you do to maximize your potential will hurt your eligibility for Medicaid; and SSI and/or DAC/CDB Social Security benefits will be there if you need them
• Could allow systems to better coordinate to provide positive, reliable support systems to help young people identify and accomplish their dreams
• Over time (not tomorrow), likely savings to SSI and Social Security as more young people with disabilities work and receive reduced or no cash assistance