Barriers to Disability Increase Homelessness

June 4, 2012

A recently published report by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty shows that bureaucratic barriers are preventing thousands of homeless Americans from accessing Social Security disability benefits that could help them get off the street.

Social Security benefits, are critical to keeping individuals with disabilities in stable housing through income support and health services. Unfortunately, the application process is cumbersome and freezes out many eligible homeless people. While up to 40 percent are potentially eligible due to physical or mental disabilities, only 14 percent actually receive benefits.

One key barrier is the severe restriction on the types of health care workers who can provide a medical diagnosis. Most health clinics for homeless people are staffed by non-doctors, such as nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants. As a result, homeless people’s disability claims lack accepted medical evidence and are not approved–perpetuating homelessness.

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