During the pandemic, calls to mental health hotlines soared. People in emotional distress learned that psychologists were booked months in advance or were completely unavailable. While COVID dramatized the need for mental health treatment generally, new research reveals how important being treated is to people with disabilities. Isaac Swensen and Carly Urban at Montana State University found that ready access to outpatient care slightly increases applications for disability benefits by working-age people under Social Security’s insurance program and by poor and marginally employed workers under the companion program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Mental illness in its severest forms can interfere with the ability to work, making some individuals eligible for federal disability assistance.  But to qualify, the Social Security Administration requires that applicants submit a diagnosis from a medical professional. Applicants with mental illness living in areas with more treatment options, the researchers explained, are potentially able to obtain a…

Originally Published on https://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/

Kim Blanton Squared Away Blog Writer

I’m a veteran financial and economics reporter, most recently for The Boston Globe, who has also written for The Economist and other publications. I uncovered scandals during the savings and loan crisis in Texas back in the late 1980s, trekked around the world to cover finance and economics in the 1990s, and ventured into Boston neighborhoods to cover the recent subprime mortgage crisis.

While covering subprime mortgages, I began to see the importance of financial behavior and literacy. Wall Street excesses certainly fueled the crisis, but a poor understanding of complex financial products also played a major role. I interviewed dozens of homeowners in the grip of foreclosure who had agreed to home loans that they did not understand and that their brokers did not or could not explain to them. The consequences for these individuals – and the country – were disastrous.

I use the same dogged reporting skills to cover financial issues of growing importance today, including the personal crisis that concerns millions of baby boomers: Retirement.

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