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Medicaid, mental health heavily cut from newly elected Illinois governor’s budget

Newly elected Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner announced his budget earlier this month and it contains some cuts that could severely impact those who rely on disability benefits.

Rauner’s budget includes $1.5 billion cut to Medicaid’s Health and Family Services program. This would mean the elimination of specialized mental health rehabilitation facilities, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

Cuts in Rauner’s budget would also slice $27.5 million from the division of alcohol and substance abuse, $82 million from the division of mental health and $23 million from the Early Intervention Program. Projects which help those in need, including Project Autism and homeless youth services, will also be eliminated under this new budget.

Adding to all of this is a $19 million reduction from the public health budget. All of these services mentioned have potential to touch the lives of those who suffer from mental or physical health troubles.

Most people would agree that the state of Illinois must attempt to reduce its budget. However, attacking programs that support mental and physical health could be false economy.

If an individual remains medically untreated and ill they cannot be productive in the workforce. Additionally, chronic illness is very expensive for all taxpayers. While reductions in these programs may seem to be a  financial solution, it is not only inhumane, but not cost effective over time.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates, Ltd. is committed to assisting the disabled in pursuit of government benefits to which they are entitled.

US needs better coordination of mental healthcare programs

Anyone who has seen a family member or friend suffer through mental health problems can likely tell you: we, as a country, need to do better in ensuring people get the proper mental healthcare treatment.

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that no one is making sure patients, many veterans, get the help they need. No matter who you are, it is essential to get mental health treatment at the first instance of a problem. This will be key in attaining Social Security Administration disability benefits.

The report found, as an example of the lack of coordinator, that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is supposed to be coordinating the 47 programs to address homelessness. However, the report said “it has shown little leadership in coordinating federal efforts on behalf of those with serious mental illness.”

Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., chairman of a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the report is a “much-needed wake up call,” according to USA Today.

“The federal government’s approach to addressing mental illness is a convoluted and disjointed mess,” says Murphy, who is also a child psychologist. “Shame on us if we don’t take action and work on fixing the system wide failures identified in this report so that we can focus resources on helping those in desperate need of medical services.”

A great majority of claimants who apply for Social Security disability benefits suffer from some form of mental illness. Depression is the most common ailment and can vary from circumstantial to life long chronic depression. More resources are required to treat those who suffer from mental illness as, unfortunately, this area of human suffering is currently underserved.

Our law offices are experts in securing and presenting evidence of mental illness to the SSA on behalf of our clients so the can be approved for disability benefits.

Political battlegrounds set for SSA disability benefits

There is some interesting back-and-forth taking place between President Barack Obama and Congressional Republicans regarding the Social Security Administration’s disability benefits program. BenefitsPro reported that the White House proposed shifting payroll tax dedications from Old Age and Survivors Insurance to Disability Insurance trust “while a longer-term solutions to overall Social Security solvency is developed with the Congress.”

Last month, Republicans in the House proposed a rule to block this transfer. Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, chair of the House Ways and Means subcommittee and co-sponsor of the House rule, said it is unfair to kick “the can down the road five years” to anyone who relies on the program. However, the proposal from the White House said it is looking to keep payment from SSA disability benefits as consistent as possible.

“The Administration will oppose any measures that privatize or weaken the Social Security system and will not accept an approach that slashes benefits for future generations or reduces basic benefits for current beneficiaries,” according to the White House blueprint.

Current reports say that the SSA can afford to pay full benefits until 2033. However, with the backlog, a large number of people in need of help in and slowing in the approval rate, something will need to give in the near future.

Over our 35 years of practice, our office has seen the Social Security disability benefits program treated as a political football at the expenses of the claimants.

Games are played not only by the Congress, but the SSA as well. All of the legislators, executives and judges who administer the program are highly paid for their services. It is their duty to ensure that the disability program is fairly administered. Sadly, politics often gets in the way of fair and compassionate handling of the program, as is the case currently.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates, Ltd. are committed to zealously fighting for it’s clients so that they receive the benefits they deserve.