Date: June 2, 1995
THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE REPORTS
A WELFARE REFORM BILL
THE " FAMILY SELF-SUFFICIENCY ACT OF 1995"
On May 26, 1995, the Senate Finance Committee approved a welfare reform bill entitled The Family Self-Su fficiency Act. The bill has not yet been introduced. (For a description of the House-passed welfare reform bill, The Personal Responsibility Act of 1995 (H.R. 4), see Legislative Bulletins 104-1 through 104-4. As reported, the bill contains the following SSA-related provisions:
- Drug Addiction and Alcoholism
Individuals would no longer be considered disabled for the 55 1 program if drug addiction or alcoholism is a contributing factor mater ial to the determination of disabi lity. Th is provision would generally be effective on enactment. Individuals receiving SSI cash benefits on the date of enactment, and who cannot qual ify for SSt benefits on the basis of another disabling condit ion, will no longer be eligible for 551 benefits effect ive January 1, 1997. The Social Secur ity Administration (SSA) would be requ ired to notify such individuals of the change in the law within 90 days of the date of enactment.
Non-citizens would no longer be elig ible to qualify for SSI cash benefits unless they have
worked in the U.S. for a sufficient period to qualify for Social Security disabil ity income or
old-age benefits. Noncitizens who entered the U.S. as an asylee or refugee will be eligible
for SSI benefits for up to five years after entering the U.S. (if they otherwise meet the SSI
program requirements). Noncitizens who served in the U.S. armed forces and their spouses
and chi ldren would also be eligible. Th is provision would generall y be effective upon
enactment. Noncitizens rece iving 55I cash benefits on the date of enactment who no longer
will be eligib le for SSI cash benefits, will continue receiving SSI cash benefits until
January 1, 1997. SSA would be required to notify such indiv iduals of the change in the law within 90 days of the date of enactment.
- Deeming of Income
The full amount of a sponsor's and sponsor 's spouse's income and resources would be deemed to an alien, regard less of the alien's entry status or whether he or she has become a U.S. citizen. Deeming would continue for 5 years after the first day the alien is lawfully present in the U.S. or until the date specified in the sponsorship agreement, whichever is later.
- Children With Disabilities
An individual under age 18 shall be considered disabled if that individual has a medically
determinable physical or mental impairment, which results in marked, per vasive, and severe
functional limitations , which can be expected to re sult in death or which has lasted or can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months . In addition. SSA would be directed to el iminate references to maladaptive behavior in the domain of perso nal\behavioral functioning, and the individualized functional assessment would be eliminated. Children receiving benefits on the date of enactment and who may no longer be eligible for SSI by reason of such changes will continue receiving SSI cash benefits unti l January 1, 1997. SSA must notify such recipients within 90 days of the date of enactment that a redeterm ination of their elig ibility to benefits will be conducted by SSA within 1 year after enactment.
- Treatment Requirement
Disabled children receiving SSI would be required to have a treatment plan. (This provision was adopted as an amendment in the markup, and thus details of the provision are uncertain.) However, the provision will probably be similar to a provision in S. 828, a bill introduced by Senator Daniel Patr ick Moynihan (D. , NY) which would require that the representative payee of a disab led childsubmit a treatment plan for the child to SSA within 3 months of the award of benefits. The plan would be prepared by the child 's physician or other treatment provider and submitted to the State DDS.
- Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR)
SSA would be required to conduct a CDR every three years for children receiving SSI cash benefits except for those children whose condition is not expected to improve. SSA would be required to redetermine the eligibility for SSI of a child whose low birth weight is a contributing factor to the child' s disability determ ination after 12 months of receiving benefits. The Commissioner also would berequired to redetermine eligibility for SSI disabi lity benefits when a recipient reaches age 18.
- Study of the Disability Determinination Process
The Commissioner of Social Secur ity would be directed to contract with the National Academy of Sciences, or other independent entit ies, to conduct a study of its disability determination procedure. The study would also exam ine use of evidence in appeals and any other matters related to the determination process.
- National Commission on the Future of Disability Programs
A National Commission on the Future of Disabi lity Programs would be established to examine and make recommendat ions on improving Federal disability programs. The Commission would also consider whether Federal disability programs create barriers to employment and independence.