Our state has many solutions for people with disabilities. However, those solutions have been getting smaller and smaller as our state’s finances continue to come up short. Now another agency tied to helping Oklahomans with disabilities is having to tighten its belt, and that could leave many people in the lurch.
Will Budget Cuts Keep Oklahomans with Disabilities from Getting Jobs?
We recently talked about how budget cuts were affecting the Oklahoma Department of Human Service (DHS), which provides financial support for people with disabilities. Well, we’ve discovered that cuts to DHS aren’t the only cuts affecting Oklahomans with disabilities.
The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) has announced that it has started a waitlist for people with disabilities who are looking for a job. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program has worked for years finding jobs for people who have recently suffered a disability. But now, the program will only help people with the most severe disabilities while everyone else waits on a list.
This change is due to recent budget cuts suffered in the Oklahoma budget crisis of 2016. During that crisis, DRS found its budget cut by 4.61 percent, and it lost $4.9 million in federal match funds. This despite its cutbacks on personnel actions, travel and equipment purchases implemented in 2015.
Now, new applicants must have disabilities that limit three or more functional capacities in order to get immediate aid from DRS. If the applicant has less significant barriers to functionality, then they will be put on the waitlist. DRS does say that it will continue to evaluate eligibility of the people on the waitlist, but they will have to wait for the available funds before they can do anything to help.
What other effects with the Oklahoma budget crisis have on Oklahomans with disabilities? Keep following your Tulsa disability attorneys to find out. You can also tell us what you think on Facebook and Twitter.