Florida in top ten: families receiving SSI for children with mental health disabilities

The article in the Boston Globe I posted about a few days ago was the first in a series of 3 investigative journalism articles on poor families receiving SSI for children with disabilities of a troubling nature. These three investigative articles on The Other Welfare are, in order of appearance:

Cash and hard choices in disability program for children
Benefit increasingly goes to the very young
For teenagers, a difficult balancing act

This series had other relevant interesting revelations to make. One such revelation was the fact that the fastest growing age group in this $10,000,000,000 program consists of children under the age of 5. 4 of every 10 new cases on the SSI rolls consist of children in this age range that poor families are using to receive benefits.

The top two disorders of child disorders for which families are applying, as I mentioned previously, are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and delayed speech disorder. ADHD is a convenient excuse to label children that I’ve dealt with on a number of occasions. Delayed speech, which has undergone a 12-fold increase since 1997 when it became a means to supplement income, although it is sometimes persisting, often vanishes over time.

More distressing was the information regarding those states in which the percentage of children labeled with these more questionable disabilities on SSI was higher than the national average of 53.3 %. In New England, the average is 63 %, higher than in the rest of the nation. The story was published, of course, in Massachusetts, which at 62.4 % is # 7 on a top ten list. I happen to live in Florida, and although not a New England state, Florida is # 8 at 60.7 %. For the sake of those people who might be wondering if their state is on this top ten list, I’m giving the whole list below.

1. Pennsylvania: 67.7 %
2. Vermont: 66.1 %
3. Maine: 65 %
4. District of Columbia: 64.5 %
5. Rhode Island: 63.9 %
6. New Hampshire: 63.1 %
7. Massachusetts: 62.4 %
8. Florida: 60.7 %
9. Connecticut: 60.4 %
10. Idaho: 59.8 %

The problem with these statistics is that some of the children receiving benefits will grow into adults receiving benefits. When unemployment is presently at almost 10%, a rate which would have been unheard of in the past at any time outside of the great depression, this matter is very disturbing indeed. Calling financial dependence a disability I expect is going to become an increasing burden on the economy of this country. Sooner or later, the absurdity of doing business as usual must strike home.