Identifying Boarding Homes Housing the Needy Aged, Blind, and Disabled:

A Major Step Toward Resolving a National Problem

HRD-80-17: Published: Nov 19, 1979. Publicly Released: Nov 19, 1979.

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Countless needy aged, blind, and disabled persons receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) live in boarding homes. In 1976, Congress enacted a section of the Social Security Act which required the states to establish, maintain, and ensure enforcement of standards for facilities, such as boarding homes, in which significant numbers of SSI recipients reside or are likely to reside. However, while many of these persons are abused and exploited by unscrupulous operators, state and local licensing inspection officials do not know the location of the homes.

Many states lack the computer or programming capability to manipulate the data in the State Data Exchange file into a format usable for identifying boarding homes. This problem must be overcome if states are to fully enforce the standards that have been established. GAO developed a computerized data retrieval process which can be applied to Social Security Administration (SSA) records to identify addresses to which SSI checks are sent each month. GAO found that some of the homes were unlicensed and were either operating illegally or were not required to have a state or local license, and some of them were unknown to authorities. The legal questions concerning the use of information obtained from the SSA records have been resolved, and SSA has begun action to overcome the technical barriers which may be preventing states from using this process of identification.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare should: (1) notify each State of the decision that information in the data exchange file may be used to assist in identifying boarding homes; (2) provide computer and programming assistance to any State that lacks the capability to manipulate the State Data Exchange file to produce data in a format usable for identifying potential boarding homes; and (3) monitor States' efforts to enforce the standards established under section 1616(e) and help resolve problems encountered.

    Agency Affected:


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