Report Suggests Changes to Social Security Disability Determination Process To Benefit Homeless

In a recent press release on a recent report, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) said that “bureaucratic barriers are preventing thousands of homeless Americans from accessing Social Security disability benefits that could help them get off the street.”

The press release goes on:

Social Security benefits, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), are critical to keeping people with disabilities in stable housing through income support and health services.  Unfortunately, the application process is cumbersome and freezes out many eligible homeless people.  While up to 40 percent are potentially eligible due to physical or mental disability, only 14 percent actually receive benefits.

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty argues that many homeless people have to visit free clinics for their physical and mental health needs. These clinics, many times, do not staff the acceptable medical sources needed to be able to prove disability in the case of some conditions.

The following medical professionals are the acceptable medical sources: (1) licensed physicians, (2) licensed or certified psychologists, (3) licensed optometrists, for the purposes of establishing visual disorders, (4) licensed podiatrists, for the purposes of establishing impairments of the foot and ankle only, and (5) qualified speech-language pathologists, for the purposes of establishing speech or language impairments only. (20 C.F.R. § 404.1513)
While this does not rule out homeless individuals from receiving disability benefits, it puts up a barrier of red tape due to their situation even if a consultative examination is arranged. To remedy this, the NLCHP suggests allowing nurse practitioners, physician assistants and licensed clinical social workers to be able to provide diagnostic evidence of certain medical conditions.

To see the full report in PDF document, please click here.

Photo Credit: Paleontour via Flickr Creative Commons