Latest GAO reports on disability-related issues
In June, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued two reports that provide insight into issues experienced by people with disabilities. One report, Supplemental Security Income - Better Management Oversight Needed for Children's Benefits, stated that the number of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) child applicants and recipients with "mental impairments" has increased substantially for more than a decade, even though the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied, on average, over 50 percent of the claims from fiscal years 2000 to 2011. The rising number of children in poverty and increasing diagnosis of certain mental health diagnoses, in particular autism, are factors contributing to this growth, according to the report. GAO investigators also found that many continuing disability reviews are not being conducted as required by the law. The GAO recommended that SSA take steps to ensure needed information, such as secondary diagnosis data and school records, is consistently collected; make its continuing disability review waiver process more transparent; and conduct additional childhood continuing disability reviews.
In another report, Employment for People with Disabilities - Little is Known about the Effectiveness of Fragmented and Overlapping Programs, the GAO identified 45 programs that supported employment for people with disabilities in fiscal year 2010, "reflecting a fragmented system of services" due to the lack of coordination across programs. All programs overlapped with at least one other program in that they provided one or more similar employment service for people with disabilities. In addition, 32 of the 45 programs tracked at least one employment-related outcome measure for people with disabilities, but overall little is known about the effectiveness of these programs. The GAO did not provide specific recommendations for improvement.