Smart Policy Works was founded in 1992 – during the era of welfare reform – with the sole purpose of improving access to public benefits programs and preserving the integrity of the Social Security Disability Income programs. Our work has grown exponentially since then, but we work today toward the same purpose: to break down economic, social, and structural barriers to health and well-being.
The project was a collaboration with Chicago-area hospitals to increase access to public benefit programs and improve health outcomes of children with severe disabilities hospitalized in neo-natal intensive care units.
The group worked to educate policymakers and employment providers in five Midwestern states on the need to increase opportunities of persons with disabilities.
The SSI Coalition received funding to provide technical support and training for community-based providers on Social Security Work Incentives programs. Continue reading “Illinois Work Incentives Support Center”
The SSI Coalition played a role in the development, passage, and implementation of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999, the most significant disability employment law since the ADA.
The Coalition partnered with the Shriver Center on a class action lawsuit to reinstate eligibility for food stamps and income supports that were eliminated under the PRWOA for noncitizens.
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.
Initiated by the SSI Coalition and the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, the campaign increased Medicaid income eligibility in Illinois from 42% of the federal poverty level to 100%, giving access to 200,000 low-income individuals.
The Coalition led this Illinois advocacy organization, which brought together policymakers, legislators, advocates, providers, and consumers to work collaboratively to improve Illinois’ healthcare system.
The Chicagoland SSI Coalition’s new name was designed to reflect our emerging policy-advocacy work around economic and health care security.
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, portrayed as a major welfare reform, eliminated eligibility for SSI for millions of noncitizens, including legal permanent residents and refugees.
During the Clinton-era push for welfare reform, congressional attacks targeted SSI and SSDI for people with substance use disorders, among the first populations for whom the SSI Coalition would advocate. The coalition also fought to preserve access to Medicaid for Illinois’ general assistance population.
The organization that ultimately became Smart Policy Works grew out of the Chicagoland SSI Coalition, formed as a part of the national “Appeal to Conscience” campaign.