Why hundreds of thousands of poor, disabled children are missing out on federal help

By Gabrielle Emanuel: Complete Post through this link…

The closet under the stairs is Connor Biscan’s favorite place to hang out at his family’s home in Wilmington, Massachusetts. It’s filled with oversized stuffed animals, big balls and other items that bring him comfort.

As a toddler, Connor would open and close cabinets repeatedly, screw and unscrew water bottle caps. His mother, Roberta Biscan, watched him carefully. It wasn’t long before Connor was diagnosed with autism.

Biscan remembers feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness and despair. One big concern was financial. She’d held a customer service job for more than a decade, and as a single parent to her son and newborn twins, she’d always planned on working. But, soon after Connor’s diagnosis, she realized she needed to quit.

“I couldn’t work for the first 10 years of his life because I was just so busy with therapy appointments [and] doctor’s appointments,” Biscan recalled. “I just had to be available.”

Biscan regularly stayed up until the early morning hours searching for resources to help her family get by.

One night she stumbled on what would become their lifeline: Supplemental Security Income or SSI.

The federal safety net program serves people who are very poor, and who have a disability or are elderly. About a million of America’s most vulnerable children receive money through SSI and, in many states, receiving SSI qualifies them for health insurance under Medicaid. One report estimated that the program lifts about half of its child beneficiaries out of poverty.

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