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California Department of Social Services Announces Improved Access to Disability Payments to Homeless Individuals
Date:2/5/2008

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- John Wagner, Director of the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), announced today the implementation of the Cooperative Homeless Office-Initiated Consultative Examination (CHOICE) process. The process aims to improve access and reduce the length of time necessary in determining eligibility for federal disability benefits for California's homeless population. In essence, the CHOICE process streamlines the scheduling of a medical exam when it is determined to be a necessary step in the disability evaluation process for homeless individuals.

"Our commitment is to get as much support as possible, as quickly as possible, to the state's homeless individuals," said Wagner. "Many times, it is difficult for the homeless to access Supplemental Security Income (SSI) services and benefits, but, with this new process, eligibility determinations can be made in a more efficient manner."

The CHOICE process is used during the initial face-to-face application interview at a local Social Security office and allows homeless applicants to immediately receive a consultative medical examination appointment, free of charge. Under the previous process, homeless applicants waited until CDSS received the disability claim before assessing the need for a medical exam.

"This successful innovation can reduce the disability eligibility determination period by several weeks and has proven an effective way to maintain contact with homeless applicants," Wagner continued. "It's an excellent example of inter-agency collaboration that produces improved performance and outcomes at no additional cost."

CHOICE Goes Statewide

CDSS's Disability Determination Service Division (DDSD) adjudicates all Social Security Disability Insurance and SSI disability claims filed in California on behalf of the Social Security Administration (SSA). Implemented statewide on February 1, 2008, CHOICE is administe
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SOURCE California Department of Social Services
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