Thursday, April 28, 2011

Judicial Determination for Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Not Required in Cases Where a Special Needs Child Qualifies for SSI

In a March, 2011 e-mail to ODJFS policy makers, advocates and adoptive parents, I argued that in cases where a child meets the definition of a special needs child and qualifies for SSI, there are no additional requirements. Specifically, I contended that “judicial removal,” a judicial determination that “continuation in the home was contrary to the child’s welfare,” termination of parental rights and placement with for adoption was in the child’s best interest or other similar judicial determinations were not required for Title IV-E eligibility for the population of special needs children who qualified for SSI.

Sandra Holt, ODJFS’ Deputy Director Child/Adult Protection, Office of Families and Children affirmed this policy position in an e-mail dated April 28, 2011. She wrote

This letter is in response to your concerns regarding the administrative rules for determining eligibility for Ohio’s Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Program (AA). You expressed concern in an email dated 3/5/11 that when a child is SSI eligible, the child does not have to be judicially removed. You are correct. However, in order for a child to be eligible for AA, a child must be determined to be special needs.

Deputy Director Holt also responded positively to the recent notice in Section 8.2B.12, Question 3 of the federal Child Welfare Policy Manual, which provides that state IV-E agencies such as ODJFS may make SSI disability determinations for the purpose of assessing a special needs child’s eligibility for Title IV-E adoption assistance, although not for the SSI program itself. She wrote:

You also advocated for language to be added to administrative rules to allow the Public Children Services Agency (PCSA) to make the determination that the child meets the medical or disability requirements for SSI benefits in response to a recent clarification by the Children’s Bureau. There will be clarification added to the rule that will allow the PCSA the ability, if they choose.
Presumably, there will some training and guidance on SSI eligibility determinations for both county and state officials. Adoptive parents would also have the option of going to the local Social Security Administration for a disability determination. Finally, adoptive parents would retain the right to appeal denials of disability through the state administrative hearing system.