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Abstract

The thesis of this Article is that reform of the Supplemental Security Income disability program is properly on the welfare reform agenda, but not in the terms cast by proposed legislation. Procedural reform targeting identified problems should be the first step, rather than the termination of the federal entitlement program or the re-writing of the eligibility criteria. Substantive reform should follow such procedural reform. Therefore, this Article will focus particularly on procedural reform, although it will place that discussion in the context of the current legislative climate. Part II of this Article describes the current disability determination process and why it needs to change. Part III discusses procedural reform, and in particular the major aspects of the agency's Reengineering Plan and its implementation. This Part also focuses attention on aspects of the Plan that deserve special vigilance and proactive participation by those who advocate on behalf of poor and disabled people. Part IV reviews current congressional proposals to restrict the reach of the SSI program. The Article argues for rejection of these proposals, which are not responsive to the identified need for change in the system, and which would have untoward and destructive impacts on state and local governments and the people whose survival depends on these entitlements. The Article concludes that the Reengineering Plan holds promise for procedural reform of a major welfare program in ways that will be beneficial to citizens.

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