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Homeless people often ineligible for SSD, but there is another option -- SSI

Many people with mental illnesses are ineligible for Social Security Disability (SSD), even though many psychological conditions qualify individuals for SSD benefits. That's because SSD is for people who have worked for a prescribed number of quarters and have paid into the federal disability insurance system. People with mental illnesses such as bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia are often unable to ever work long enough to acquire the required number of credits. Their only resource is often Supplemental Security Income (SSI) a federal program for the poor who have never paid into the system.


Many individuals with mental illness alternate between some type of sheltered living and the street. They lose track of their SSI benefits, in part because they neglect their medications and other care routines when living on the streets. They land in the hospital, where they are stabilized, put back on medications, and then released, sometimes back to the same streets.

When the public hears about people living on the streets because they do not take their prescribed meds they often become exasperated and blame the program or the patients themselves. What such critics fail to recognize is that the medications have significant side effects. The mentally ill who live on the streets seldom get help dealing with those side effects and simply go off the meds. Helping them find a structured setting is the first step to improving their safety and health.

Aiding mentally-ill street people is challenging on many levels. Helping them get SSI and medication is key to returning them to a more stable life. Some advocates for the mentally ill turn to attorneys and other professionals who can help them secure benefits for those suffering from mental illness. Binder & Binder®, the national Social Security Disability advocates, helps people obtain SSI benefits. Whether they are mentally ill and living on the streets or disabled because of a workplace accident, Binder & Binder® clients can find the assistance they need to obtain the benefits they deserve.

Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, " Ahead of the Vortex," Aug. 12, 2012.

Ahead of the Vortex

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