In Pennsylvania, we are seeing on a smaller scale what could happen if drastic cuts are made to SSDI benefits (they are set to be cut at least 21 percent in 2016 if their financial situation is not fixed). Like many states, Pennsylvania provides its own form of financial support for low income residents; its program is called “General Assistance.” General Assistance is the last form of support for Pennsylvania’s poorest residents, but its governor and legislature are now set to eliminate it entirely.
The effect could be disastrous to people like James Fleming, who said that he would be dead without the meager support General Assistance provided. After 30 years of substance abuse, Fleming entered a detox program in 2008 and then lived in a recovery house where he received treatment for almost a year. He has since repaid 10 times the amount of benefits he had been receiving through General Assistance (just $200 a month). He now works with others struggling through the same problems.
SSDI benefits and state programs like General Assistance have, unfortunately, become easy targets for some, but, as we have discussed with SSDI in past blogs, it is not even clear that we should start with them in the first place. In Pennsylvania, the governor and legislature have proposed $275 million in tax cuts to business and $150 million in tax credits for businesses that provide scholarships to students who opt for private schools. Additionally, the latest budget leaves $400 million in reserve.
In contrast, the General Assistance program typically ends up costing the state about $126 million a year. If the program is in fact cut (which appears to be the case at the time of this post), many are worried that the most destitute Pennsylvanians will end up in jails, hospitals and homeless shelters instead of receiving the assistance and vocational training that Fleming got.
Has a disability prevented you from being to work? If so, speak to one of our Tulsa Oklahoma Social Security disability attorneys to determine whether you are eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys