What is House Bill H.R. 2511?
This bill would tie Supplemental Security Income benefits for disabled teenagers aged 16 and 17, to school attendance. Were such a disabled minor to miss too much school, he or she would lose his or her Social Security benefits.
SSI is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues. It helps aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income with cash to meet their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
This bill outlines exceptions in this bill for 16 and 17 year old disabled students who can prove there was a medical reason for absence in school.
16 and 17 year olds who receive SSI benefits, their families, the Social Security Administration, Congress, schools serving students with disabilities, and their staffs.
Cost of House Bill H.R. 2511
A CBO cost estimate is not available.
In Depth: In his testimony to the House Committee on Ways and Means, Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) outlined why he believes his bill is necessary:
"Roughly 66 percent of youth on SSI are still on the program at age 19, which drastically increases the likelihood that they will remain on SSI well into their adulthood. One reason children on SSI continue to receive benefits for extensive lengths of time is that the program does not offer incentives for personal success. This measure is one way to ensure those receiving SSI continue toward the path to self-sufficiency. ... Thirty percent of children ages 17 and 18 on SSI are not attending school."
Critics of this legislation say that it blatantly ignores the extra challenges faced by disabled teenagers and their families that ableist lawmakers don't understand:
"In a number of states — Missouri, Tennessee and Michigan among them — lawmakers have attempted to tie welfare benefits to truancy, an idea that seems more like extortion than a simple quid pro quo. And while those who live in poverty are usually regarded by the GOP with open disdain, the idea of targeting disabled children in particular is an especially vile one."
Summary by Jenny Simeone
(Photo Credit: Flickr user vauvau)