SSA defends ending checks for children Case profiles show benefits to badly disabled continue

September 18, 1997|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- The Social Security Administration sought yesterday to assure Congress and a growing chorus of critics that one of the most controversial elements of last year's welfare reform bill has not denied benefits to severely disabled children.

Having pared more than 120,000 children from the disability rolls in recent months, the Social Security Administration has sent Congress a compendium of case studies designed to show that, while many marginal cases have been dropped, the neediest children have not been cut off.

The report provides thumbnail sketches of 40 randomly chosen cases in which a child -- identified by first name only -- has been denied further payments, along with 40 cases in which the child's payments will be continued.

The unusual presentation of detailed case studies comes in response to calls from advocates for the disabled for a review of the process by which cash grants to disabled children have been cut off. Last week, the Clinton administration's newly nominated director of the Social Security Administration, Kenneth S. Apfel, promised a "top-to-bottom" assessment of that process.

Yesterday, two Republicans who drafted the hotly debated provision of welfare reform -- Republican Reps. E. Clay Shaw Jr. of Florida and Jim McCrery of Louisiana -- released the Social Security Administration's report.

The summaries of "randomly selected redetermination cases" provided by the SSA appear to show consistently that payments were stopped for children whose physical and social functioning is fairly normal, often with the help of medication and special classes or therapy.

Among those whose payments were continued, children typically were found to be mentally retarded or suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that was not much eased by medication.

Pub Date: 9/18/97

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