Imagine a disability that renders you unable to work. Now imagine you have no income, no savings, and no employer-sponsored insurance. You apply for federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI), only to find that the application process is long and complex. Chances are, you will have wait for a year or two, if not longer, before your first federal disability check comes. And in the meantime, how do you get by?
In the District, as in 37 states, you may qualify for temporary aid. DC’s Interim Disability Assistance is a temporary cash assistance program that provides $270 per month to individuals with disabilities who have applied for SSI and are awaiting a decision. If the SSI application is approved, the federal government reimburses the District for assistance paid during the application period. Not only does IDA help reduce reliance on costly emergency services like homeless shelters and hospital visits, but it facilitates access to pro bono legal representation during the SSI process – all with no administrative costs.
Despite these benefits, funding for IDA has been slashed in recent years, from $5.6 million in FY 2008 to just $1.5 million in FY 2013. As a result, the number of individuals served by the program dropped 80 percent, from 2,900 to 550, even though the need has remained the same. The mayor’s budget has only a modest increase of $125,000 for IDA in FY 2014, enough to provide benefits for only 38 additional individuals. IDA is a good investment in the well-being of residents with disabilities and for the city as a whole. The District can ensure an additional 1,200 residents get this critical assistance in FY 2014 by adding ad additional $3.8 million to the modest budget increase in the mayor’s budget.
For a look at who benefits from IDA and how, check out this short video by DCFPI and So Others Might Eat.
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