Supplemental Security Income:

SSA Needs a Uniform Standard for Assessing Childhood Disability

T-HEHS-98-206: Published: Jul 7, 1998. Publicly Released: Jul 7, 1998.

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Cynthia Maher Fagnoni
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GAO discussed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) implementation of the new eligibility criteria for childhood disability benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

GAO noted that: (1) SSA has made considerable progress in implementing the welfare reform changes in eligibility for SSI children; (2) SSA has taken important steps to safeguard fairness by identifying children whose benefits may have been terminated inappropriately and establishing remedial action to rereview their cases; (3) however, because SSA's medical listings reflect multiple levels of severity, SSA also needs to expedite updating and modifying its medical listings to ensure that all children are assessed against a uniform severity standard; (4) the need to revise the listings is a long-standing problem that GAO reported on in 1995; (5) moreover, SSA needs to take concerted action to follow through on its plan for monitoring and continually improving the quality of decisions regarding children; and (6) consistent with a legislative mandate, GAO will continue to focus its work on SSA's efforts to provide reasonable assurance that it can administer the program consistently and improve the accuracy of childhood disability decisions.

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