States Should Be Fully Reimbursed for Interim Assistance to Supplemental Security Income Recipients

HRD-78-145: Published: May 15, 1978. Publicly Released: May 15, 1978.

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Many applicants for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits need financial aid until they receive their first benefit payment which may be delayed for over a year until eligibility is established. This aid is often provided by State or local welfare agencies. The Interim Assistance Reimbursement (IAR) program was established to provide a means of reimbursing States or counties for such assistance.

State agencies are not being fully reimbursed for the aid provided. Four California counties studied were reimbursed by the Social Security Administration in only 26% of cases intended for coverage under the IAR program. From January through April 1976, Social Security paid an estimated $658,000 to SSI applicants that it should have sent to these counties. Duplicate payments are made and, on some occasions, clients continue to receive benefits from both the welfare agency and Social Security. Problems exist because of: inadequate instruction to Social Security district offices, lack of coordination between district offices and welfare agencies, and poor execution of procedures by agencies. Many of the difficulties experienced are because two agencies are responsible for making payments to individuals during the same period. If responsibility for providing interim assistance were placed with Social Security, it would reduce problems.

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