Administration marks $100M for effort to cut disability rolls

The Department of Education is spearheading the program, as detailed in a Federal Register notice scheduled to publish on Tuesday.

The program will reward states that “improve outcomes” for families and children that receive federal income assistance, and competition will likely be fierce — only three to six states will receive funding.

State governments will disburse the federal grants, averaging $37.5 million for five years, to agencies as approved by the state’s governor. They are expected to work toward improving the lives of children and adults receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) subsidies, which are provided to low-income families that have a child with a severe disability.

The Department of Education wants states to coordinate with its agencies and other contractors to focus on increased education, employment and wages for SSI recipients and their parents. Eventually, the program aims to reduce dependency on the SSI program.

Young adults who participate in the SSI program have high rates of unemployment. In 2000, only 22 percent of recipients between the ages of 19 and 23 had jobs, compared to the overall employment rate of 69 percent for that age group, according to a DOE study.

The study also found that one-fifth of SSI young adult beneficiaries had been arrested.

The PROMISE program encourages states to help the parents of qualified child and young adult SSI recipients, citing a 2009 study that found about one-third of those parents have less than a high school education.

“Child SSI recipients and their families lack information about various work incentives available to them to help them pursue activities that would increase self-sufficiency,” the department said.

In 2011, the income assistance program provided subsidies for 1.3 million children at an average cost of $592 per month. That amount increased to a maximum of $710 per child per month in 2013, according to the Federal Register notice.