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Missouri considering plan to shift state aid recipients to SSD

A committee in the Missouri House is considering a plan to have some recipients of welfare and Medicaid in the state taken off those state-managed programs and put them on Social Security Disability benefits instead. The proposal is intended to save millions of dollars in state funds, but critics are questioning whether this is an appropriate use of the SSD program, which is intended for people who are unable to work due to a disability.

The proposal comes from the Missouri Department of Social Services has negotiated a deal with an outside company that would administer the transfers if the Legislature approves the plan. The company, Public Consulting Group, would examine Missouri residents currently receiving benefits under Medicaid for their children or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The recipients would then be divided in three categories based on how likely they would be approved for SSD for Social Security Income benefits. For each person who is approved for federal disability benefits, PCG would be paid a fee by the state ranging from $500 to $2,300.

This idea raises a number of questions. One is whether many families with disabled members that are receiving TANF benefits are not already receiving SSD or SSI benefits as well. Some critics are also concerned that TANF and SSD have different goals. While SSI is need-based, it and SSD are intended to provide aid for disabled children and adults. TANF and Medicaid, on the other hand, help those who are struggling with poverty regardless of their physical or mental condition.

In addition, an early draft of the letter to be sent to qualifying residents included an apparent threat to reduce or cut off benefits to those who do not participate in the transfer program. The director of the state Department of Social Services says that a new draft has removed this part of the letter.

Source: KMOX-TV, "Mo. House Committee Considers Welfare Transfer Program," Meghan Boggess, April 23, 2013

· For more information about obtaining Social Security Disability benefits, please visit our Missouri Social Security Disability page.

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