Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Issues with SSI benefits and casemanagers

I thought this was a well-crafted short piece examining some of the issues and complexities of the SSI benefit policies.

When it comes to assigning people certain amounts of SSI for different disabilities and things, I think case managers making the overall decisions need to be more aware of the person’s situation. For some people receiving SSI is an excuse to not hold a job or contribute anything worthwhile to society. And then others are kept from receiving these benefits. For instance when alcoholism is listed as someone’s main medical problem – they are kept from receiving SSI benefits.

Here are two examples.

A young man in our community who is developmentally disabled, but he’s also an alcoholic. His doctor listed alcoholism as his main problem, keeping him from receiving SSI, something that he truly needs because he is not developed enough to hold a steady job. The thing keeping him from holding a job isn’t alcoholism.

There’s the other side of the coin as well – the diabetic alcoholic who receives SSI because their main medical problem was diabetes. So he gets a SSI check every month, but rather than using it to eat properly, he uses it to go buy alcohol, thus making his diabetic issues worse and worse.

It’s hard to say that one person deserves SSI over another. I can’t even imagine being the person in the position to set down those rules and those standards. It’d be nice if it were the sort of thing that could be looked at differently from person to person, etc and so on. Perhaps it’s time to do something like that. To start looking at individual circumstances when it comes to handing out SSI and moving forward based on those circumstances and how they fit into the whole. Sometimes a simple set of standards is just fine to get by on, but other times things need to be shifted and changed to put everything in right order.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you on this issue, Eric. I have a slightly different situation with Public Aid instead of SSI, but it feels just the same.

I receive food stamps and medicaid for myself and my daughter, no cash benefits. My case worker just told me after my recent recertification that I no longer qualify to receive food stamps because I'm a student. What??? So, in essence I'm being punished for continuing my education while other single mothers who continuously pop out baby after baby get to receive more food stamps to feed their families. I talked to her supervisor who informed me that when I'm no longer in school, I can resume receiving food stamps. I have one child who I'm trying to teach the value of a good education, but we still need to eat in the process. This is insane and I hate the system for that. I believe that SSI has some really bogus policies as well, so I totally agree with you that there needs to be some definite changes made to the system when it comes to setting the rules and assessing each different situation. Sometimes I feel that the 'system' was designed to fail us when we need it most, which is so unfair.


Eric Hadley-Ives said...

This post was a presentation of a short essay by one of my students, but yes, I happen to agree with you and my student that Food Stamps ought to be allowed for people who are attending school. However, I do have a concern with the possible expansion of costs for the Food Stamps Program if most of the undergraduate students in the nation start to receive food aid. There could be certain rules, such as persons with children who are taking fewer than ten units of college credit coursework in a semester would be allowed to receive food stamps. That would limit the benefit to part-time non-traditional students (and perhaps full-time graduate students). However, it gives students an incentive to have children and to attend part-time instead of full-time. Maybe just expanding the food stamps program to everyone with a certain income would be the easiest way to handle the problem. I'm not sure. But I do think some of the cost increases in the USDA Food Stamps Program (if expanded as you and my student have suggested) could come from drastic cuts or elimination of most subsidies to corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar, rice, beef, pork, and chicken production in the USA.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response, Eric. I see where you're coming from, but many parts of me still disagree with the whole idea of setting up certain policies for some on the system, yet having it negatively affect others who don't deserve it. I think the entire system including SSI and Public Aid needs to be revamped to make it fair for those who deserve it. I feel that the wrong people are being punished as we see in the short essay of one of your students.