Without a Net

The first published study attempting to track the impact of cuts to SSI and SSDI on people whose primary disability was substance addiction, this research created a basis for the Coalition’s advocacy.

Following the elimination of substance abuse as a disability under SSI, the Heartland Alliance’s Mid-America Institute on Poverty and the SSI Coalition carried out a study of the effect of the change on actual Chicago residents targeted by the law. This original research was based on interviews with 100 former SSI recipients and 98 representatives of social service agencies. The resulting report, Without a Net, released in March 1998, noted that in addition to the loss of cash benefits, the former beneficiaries had also lost eligibility for health care under both Medicaid and Medicare because their primary disability was substance abuse, and that only 10% of them had been able to find jobs. These findings confirmed the earlier predictions of advocates, corroborating that denial of benefits flies in the face of stated goals of welfare reform – namely, moving people into work and promoting self-sufficiency.

Research was supported by the Chicago Community Trust and the Woods Fund.

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