Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2000. Recent Legislative Changes

03/01/2000

Several legislative changes made in the 104th Congress are likely to affect Supplemental Security Income (SSI) participation and expenditures.  Public Law 104-121, the Contract with America Advancement Act of 1996, prohibits SSI eligibility to individuals whose drug addiction and/or alcoholism (DAA) is a contributing factor material to the finding of disability.  This provision applied to individuals who filed for benefits on or after the date of enactment (March 29, 1996) and to individuals whose claims were finally adjudicated on or after the date of enactment.  It applied to current beneficiaries on January 1, 1997.

The PRWORA made several changes designed to maintain the SSI program's goal of providing benefits for severely disabled children while preventing children without serious impairments from receiving benefits.  First, the act replaced the former law "comparable severity" test with a new definition of childhood disability based on a medically determinable physical or mental impairment.  Second, it discontinued use of the Individualized Functional Assessment (IFA) which authorized subjective judgment to determine children's eligibility for SSI.  Third, it eliminated references to "maladaptive behavior" in the Listings of Impairments (among medical criteria for evaluation of mental and emotional disorders in the domain of personal/behavioral function).  The latter two provisions were effective for all new and pending applications upon enactment (August 22, 1996).  Current beneficiaries receiving benefits due to an IFA or maladaptive behavior listing received notice no later than January 1, 1997, that their benefits might end when their case is redetermined.  All currently receiving benefits are subject to redetermination using the new eligibility criteria by February 28, 1998 (per P.L. 105-33, enacted August 5, 1997).

Title IV of PRWORA also made significant changes in the eligibility of noncitizens for SSI benefits.  Essentially, qualified aliens (including legal immigrants) are barred from SSI.  Some of the restrictions were subsequently moderated, most notably by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-33), which grandfathered immigrants who were receiving SSI at the time of enactment of the PRWORA.

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"Chapter III. Predictors and Risk Factors Associated with Welfare Receipt" (pdf, 228.15Kb)

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