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The Use of Supplemental Security Income to Maximize Assets and Income for Foster Youths with Disabilities

By Angie Schwartz & Diana Glick

Laws recently enacted in California ensure that disabled foster youths who may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) have applications submitted on their behalf well before they leave foster care so that they receive SSI upon emancipation. California’s model can be replicated elsewhere. With high rates of disability and only a very small percentage receiving SSI, many youths exiting foster care become homeless, addicted, and involved in the criminal justice system. To avert this, advocates can promote policies requiring child welfare agencies to apply for SSI for youths in their care. Washington State Department of Social and Health Services v. Guardianship Estate of Keffeler, 537 U.S. 571 (2003), need not discourage advocates from making sure that foster youths with disabilities obtain SSI when they need it.

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