Improving Access to Disability Benefits Among Homeless Persons With Mental Illness: An Agency-Specific Approach to Services Integration.

Robert Rosenheck, Linda Frisman, and Wesley Kasprow

April 1999

This study evaluated a joint initiative of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to improve access to Social Security disability benefits among homeless veterans with mental illness.  Social Security personnel were colocated with VA clinical staff at  four of the VA's Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) programs.  Intake assessment data were merged with SSA administrative data to determine the proportion of veterans who filed applications and who received disability awards at the four initiative sites  and at 34 comparison HCHV sites during the two years before and after implementation of the program.  During the 2 years after the initiative began, higher proportions of veterans applied for disability and were awarded benefits  at SSA-VA Joint Initiative sites.  As a result, the researchers conclude that a colocation approach to service system integration can improve access to disability entitlements among homeless persons with mental illness.

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