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New York part of federal 'PROMISE' to kids on SSI

We wrote recently about the complicated application and appeal process for veterans' disability benefits. If you are a parent of a child with a disability, you know that the process for other government programs can be quite as complicated and that no two are alike. And because different federal agencies offer different benefits, you know all too well that there is no such thing as "one-stop shopping."

New York is among a handful of states participating in a pilot program that could change that. The Social Security Administration has partnered with the federal Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services on demonstration projects that should streamline the benefits processes and, ultimately, lead to better outcomes for the children.

The federal government has long been looking for ways to move people with disabilities who are receiving Supplement Security Income benefits off those benefit rolls. Yanking the benefits out from under these individuals and their families, though, will only create more problems, will only cost society more money. The better route is to help SSI recipients become self-supporting.

People with disabilities can have trouble finding work, though; for many, part of the reason is a lack of education and skills. Without educational opportunities earlier in life, the chances of self-sufficiency decrease. These pilot programs seek to improve employment opportunities for adults with disabilities by delivering services more effectively to children with disabilities.

The program, Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income, or PROMISE, provides the services and support necessary to help students with disabilities and their families focus less on living day-to-day and more on securing a brighter future. As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, "All children deserve a chance to achieve their educational and career goals." A disability should not be a barrier to meaningful employment.

The federal government has given the participating states $211 million in grants to run the PROMISE initiative. The pilots will run for five years.

Source: Disability Scoop, "States Get Millions To Wean Kids Off SSI," Shaun Heasley, Oct. 8, 2013

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