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Homeless women face issues when it comes to disability benefits


When we picture people with disabilities in Florida and nationwide, we typically think of people in wheelchairs or those requiring in-home care to get through the day. While these are examples of individuals living with disabilities, this doesn't fully capture this vulnerable population. In fact, many disabled individuals do not have access to the same health care as others, causing an even more challenging and burdensome predicament.

According to a recent study that focused on the disabled homeless population, researchers discovered that women are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to accessing disability benefits. This not only presents a problem for homeless adults living with disabilities, this emphasizes issues regarding outreach and assistance provided to homeless disabled women.

The benefits provided by the Social Security Administration, whether SSDI or SSI, could provide necessary financial benefits that could provide applicants with their basic living needs. This not only means access to needed health care, but also the ability to obtain shelter, clothing and food.

A program called SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) was created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It was designed to facilitate access to disability benefits, primarily assisting those adults that are homeless and low-income. The SOAR program focuses on five factors, which include increasing application approvals and reducing the processing times for those seeking assistance from SOAR. Prior to SOAR, homeless adults had only a 10 to 15 percent success rate without assistance in the application process. But since its initiation in 2005 and 2006, that success rate has risen to 65 percent.

However, when the personal characteristics of those assisted by SOAR were examined, certain findings were discovered. First, those that were in institutions at the start of an application were twice as likely to have their application approved in comparison to those that were not institutionalized. Additionally, their approvals came back quicker. Researchers also found that women were 30 percent less likely to have their application approved when compared to men. Finally, it was found that those already receiving public assistance were 20 percent less likely to be approved.

Obtaining SSD benefits is often crucial for applicants. However, it is not only meeting the basic qualifiers that result in an approved application. Unfortunately, certain characteristics could negatively impact the process. Those who are dealing with this or any other issue related to the SSD application process should seek guidance about their legal rights.

Source: News.ncsu.edu, "Study of Homeless Finds Women at Disadvantage for Accessing Disability Benefits," Sarah Desmarais, Evan Lowder, Matt Shipman, Aug. 23, 2017

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