California Illegally Denies Aid to Disabled Poor, Suit Contends
Advocates for poor people seeking disability benefits have filed a lawsuit charging that the California Department of Social Services has "illegally den[ied]" disability benefit requests "by manipulating medical evidence and ignoring the applicants' doctors," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of "thousands" of Californians who have been "improperly denied federal and state SupplementalSecurity Income of $700 a month," according to attorney Patricia Wall of the Homeless Action Center in Berkeley. In addition, patients who are denied SSI are not eligible for Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program. According to the suit, the department has "routinely violat[ed] federal regulations that require the state to give preference to a diagnosis by a treating physician in deciding whether an applicant is disabled." The suit charges that the state instead "orders" poor applicants to go to one of the "small number of clinics that do business only with the government" and often "disregards the treating doctor's diagnosis or does not even attempt to obtain it." Furthermore, these "consuThis is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.