The Effects of SSI & SSDI Benefits Termination As Seen in HCH Projects
Sarah McCarthy, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
"The Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) was created to provide critically needed income support for aged and disabled individuals. Similarly, the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) provides cash assistance to disabled workers. In 1996, the Social Security Act was amended to provide that an individual may not be eligible for SSI or SSDI benefits if drug addiction or alcoholism (DA&A) is material to the disability determination. DA&A is "material" if the individual would not be deemed disabled if the use of drugs or alcohol were to stop. This paper reports on findings from a study conducted to examine the impacts of these changes in the law on people who received services through Health Care for the Homeless Projects nationwide. Specifically, the study looked at changes in housing arrangements and access to substance abuse treatment services in people whose benefits were terminated as a result of the changes in the law. A total of 3,648 people were interviewed in the course of the HCH study. A total of 193 of the people interviewed (5.6%) lost their SSI or SSDI benefits in the 12 months before they were surveyed. 101 of the 193 persons (52.3%) reported that their cases were closed as a result of the new DA&A benefits elimination provisions."