On the surface this proposition sounds harsh. However, a close look at this welfare program reveals this program does more harm than good.
The original intent behind welfare programs was laudable – to reduce poverty and lessen suffering. Unfortuneately, as a nation we learned the hard way that “giving” government benefits to poor people who are “healthy” is bad public policy. A tragic example of this is the Pruitt–Igoe housing debacle in St. Louis.
As a disability attorney, I have been getting calls from parents seeking my help to get disability for their child for 30 years. Here is what I have observed. The caller is always the mother – I have never received a call from the father. The mother is always single. The mother is young, healthy, but not working. Often the single mother is already getting other government benefits such as housing, food stamps and Medicaid.
The child disability check goes to a healthy adult, not the disabled child. Thus, this program has the unintended effect of supporting children born out of wedlock, creating a disincentive to work, and promoting an entitlement mentality. This welfare program helps perpetuate a welfare culture instead of helping people escape from poverty.
Of course we should help disabled children from low income families. Every disabled child should have access to health care. Medicaid does this. Every disability child should have educational programs that address their special needs. NC law requires schools to do this. Disabled children should not starve. Food stamps and school lunch programs help feed them. Further, there are numerous non-profit organizations dedicated to helping disabled children, as there should be.
We should never turn our back on those in need. All of us at times need a helping hand. But we must be smart. And we must be careful not to create disincentives that perpetual poverty rather than lessen it. SSI disability for children is not a smart, effective program.