In 1984, Congress passed some changes to the Social Security disability program’s list of conditions that could potentially qualify sufferers for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits. This resulted in the addition of a variety of qualifying mental conditions, with their symptoms carefully weighted with medical and functional factors before claims were allowed.
Last week, prosecutors in New York announced the indictment of 106 people, including former members of the New York City fire department and the NYPD. According to the charges, between 1988 and the end of last year, the former police officers and firefighters allegedly conspired with facilitators to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance for pretended mental disabilities, including some claims for PTSD brought about by service during the 9/11 tragedy.
Among the many changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act is one that may move forward some goals many people with disabilities have long considered crucial: greater dignity, privacy and independence. For states that currently have Medicaid waivers for home and community-based services, a provision of the ACA (sometimes called “Obamacare”) called the Community First Choice Option provides federal matching funds to make housing for people with disabilities much more amenable to full integration in society.
Children with cerebral palsy or epilepsy, or with neurologic or developmental disorders, are often beneficiaries of Supplemental Security Income, and many of them are eligible for Medicaid. Yet, while Georgia Medicaid fully covers flu shots for both children and adults at increased risk, far too few children with these conditions are getting vaccinated.
Almost three years ago, President Obama signed Rosa’s Law, which urges federal education, labor and health agencies to revise their policy manuals so that they no longer use the term “mental retardation” or similar phrases to refer to people with developmental or intellectual disabilities. The Social Security Administration is about to institute new language for the disorders everywhere the agency discusses mental disabilities that qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
A major statistical review just presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies found that the number of children with disabilities, as reported by their parents, grew by 16 percent between 2002 and 2010 in the U.S. Moreover, the number of children with physical disabilities declined while the number with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities rose. The rise in disabling mental conditions, the researchers believe, may be due to the increasing rate of autism diagnoses.
A woman from Florida who suffers from degenerative disk disease and depression adjustment disorder has been fighting for denied Social Security disability benefits for more than 12 years. She finally won her benefits on appeal -- an appeal she has been fighting since 2000.
As many in Georgia are no doubt aware, the rhetoric that politicians are using these days -- especially in an election year -- is more heated than in recent memory. And one of the popular targets of people advocating trimming federal spending is people receiving Social Security Disability benefits. But it's important to remind these politicians who, may not think of the consequences of their words, just who needs these benefits.
After a case heralded for its landmark decision, the Social Security Administration will help two men with training and assistance because their mental disabilities prevented them from understanding eligibility rules. Although the men, who receive Social Security Disability benefits for their mental disabilities, reside in another state, the impact of the decision will likely reach to all jurisdictions, including Georgia.
Whether Georgia residents know it or not, they have likely been exposed to the effects of untreated schizophrenia. Many will remember that in 2011, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was wounded in a shooting spree that killed six and injured 13. Court psychiatrists later diagnosed the shooter as schizophrenic.