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Homelessness and Supplemental Security Benefits

Homeless people are more likely to have some sort of disability, either mental or physical than the general population. According to a Housing and Urban Development study released in 2009, 42.8 of adults using homeless shelters reported a disability compared to 17.7 percent of non-homeless people.

One report focusing on the homeless in Philadelphia stated that more than 90 percent of homeless people have mental illness, substance abuse, or both. This appears generally true throughout the United States.

Looked at another way, more than one fifth of homeless people across the United States have severe mental illness according to the National Coalition for the homeless (2006). Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression can be managed successfully with medications and counselling services. However, being homeless significantly increases the challenges of obtaining benefits that could help people to address these problems. When combined with no fixed address and little or no income, the homeless face enormous challenges obtaining benefits, despite outreach programs at both state and federal levels.

Statistics about the homeless confirm the difficulty of obtaining much-needed benefits. This is reflected in statistics about the homeless. According to an older study used in a 2014 report from the Health and Human Services cabinet, only 11 percent of the homeless population received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits or Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

One of the great benefits of receiving SSI is that beneficiaries become eligible for Medicaid-funded health care - care that may help them address some of their mental and other disabilities. When disabled homeless people do not receive SSI benefits, they are usually only eligible for a stripped-down version of Medicare that may not cover their needs.

Other benefits for SSI recipients include housing support in many states as well as eligibility for other social services programs. Without official recognition of a disability that comes from being awarded SSI benefits (or SSD benefits if you have a work record), obtaining these additional services becomes more difficult.

Homelessness itself is an impediment to obtaining benefits. Without a fixed address, obtaining documents, setting up appointments and visiting a Social Security office are very real challenges. Because so many initial claims are denied, having to file an appeal becomes nearly impossible for many homeless people. Undertaking the initial claim is hard enough; having to do it again for the appeal process is close to impossible for many homeless people if they don't receive help.

If you are homeless because of a mental or physical disability or know someone who is, you may be able to get help with a Supplemental Security Income claim or appeal from Binder & Binder®. Give them a call and find out how they can help.

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