Raised On Ritalin Cashing In On The Latest Disability?
In the national debate over welfare reform, reports of children faking disabilities have fueled the call for cutbacks.
Some members of Congress suspect that parents are coaching their children to mimic the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder in order to qualify for federal benefits.
Yet they have little evidence that coaching is a widespread problem.
Children with ADD qualify for cash payments - up to $458 a month - under the federal Supplemental Security Income program.
The $4.5 billion program serves nearly 900,000 disabled children. The Social Security Administration included the ADD/behavioral disorder category in 1990.
Of new people joining the SSI rolls in 1992, 6.9 percent fell in that category. In 1994, the number grew to 11.3 percent.
As the number of eligible children and adults grows, so do accusations of coaching.
In a six-month period last year, the agency suspected coaching in 674 cases - less than half of one percent of all cases. None of the suspicions was confirmed.
In February, the General Accounting Office, the investigatory arm of Congress, concluded that the charges are almost impossible to prove.