Many Disabled Californians Really feel Deserted by Gov. Newsom’s Golden State Stimulus Program

A check for $ 600 is of great help to Janet Cleandenin.

Clendenin said the cost of sugar-free foods she buys to control diabetes skyrocketed in South Lake Tahoe during a pandemic. She usually has to traverse the scenic areas by bus to find discounts at Dollar Tree, Grocery Outlet, and Wal-Mart.

When she heard in February of Governor Gavin Newsom’s plan to send $ 600 to the lowest-income Californians, Klendenin was relieved.

Then came frustration.

Clendenin has taken a close look at the news. She learned that she could have qualified by 2020 if she could work. However, the constellations of diabetes, arthritis, migraines, back injuries and nerve pain made it impossible to work about six years ago. Given her disability, she should only have been eligible if she had received Supplemental Security Income, a government safety net program for the elderly, visually impaired, and disabled people with limited incomes. ..

However, Clendenin couldn’t find a mention of Social Security Disability Insurance, another major federal program for people with disabilities that sends $ 1,056 a month.

“I couldn’t believe we were left behind,” said Klendenin. “How unfair is that?”

That sentiment is shared by many Californians about federal disability insurance, and wonder why Newsom’s stimulus payments skipped them.

California lawmakers automatically sent checks to 1.2 million people who received SSI, but SSDI’s 1.2 million Californians are only eligible if they make money from their jobs in 2020. But that’s rare – research shows that fewer than 1 in 5 SSDI recipients work in a normal year, often having a disability or risk of loss of service if they work too hard.

Disability advocates say this is the latest example of a state abandoning some of its most vulnerable residents during a pandemic after referring health care providers. Distribution of COVID-19 care to the elderly and the health impaired last spring Decrease the priority of people with disabilities for vaccines earlier this year – both guidelines were rolled back after significant protests.

Andrew Impalato, executive director of the California Department of Persons with Disabilities, said, “Many people with disabilities have had to protect themselves.”

Treasury Department spokesman HD Palmer poses logistical challenges. California maintains an up-to-date list of residents with SSI as the state adds hundreds of dollars to federal benefits. However, you cannot access the same information in SSDI.

“If you try to start SSDI … it is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process for the federal government that is not on purpose (Golden State Stimulus) – an immediate bailout for Californians with whom we have an existing relationship. That’s why, ”wrote Palmer in an email.

“Make quick decisions quickly”

Newsom administration may also have made decisions based on necessity.

SSI recipients in California live in poverty by definition. Elderly, visually impaired, and disabled people can only qualify if their incomes and assets are very low, typically only receiving $ 954.72 per month.

On the other hand, well-employed workers are entitled to monthly SSDI payments based on their previous salary. The national average performance is $ 1,280. Monthly amount.

Still, California SSDI recipients often face serious financial challenges. Andrew Houtenville, an economist at the University of New Hampshire Institute for Disability, has calculated that they may live in poverty more than twice as often as other populations. In addition, people with disabilities often have to pay for expensive medical equipment, doctor visits, and medication.

Imparato admitted that the state “tries to make difficult decisions quickly” but “getting everyone involved in SSDI is more equitable than excluding them because the program is inaccessible or has no means. That was a tested program. “

There is some evidence that lawmakers can continue to include SSDI recipients. Newsome’s proposed extension of the Golden State Stimulus requires state approval. They passed the wildcard budget to meet the June 15 deadline, but state lawmakers disagree with Newsom about what the state’s surplus is and how it can be used.

According to legislators familiar with the ongoing budget negotiations, some members of Congress will, among other things, extend the eligibility of Golden State stimulus payments to Californians at SSDI under the Newsome administration. Working on.

Evolution of Golden State Stimulation

Newsom’s Golden State Stimulus qualification has gone through several twists and turns. In January, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $ 2.4 billion plan to send a $ 600 stimulus check across the Golden State to approximately 4 million low-income workers.

By the time government revenue estimates swell in February, Parliament has begun more generous negotiations and approvals for an exciting $ 3.8 billion payment plan, including additional support for undocumented workers.

As part of this plan, the state also sent a payment of $ 600 to certain poor Californians, whether they were working or not. This is known as a government alternative for very low-income families whose children are enrolled on CalWorks, SSI recipients, or other immigrant groups. Funding program for immigrants ..

It took Charis Hill a few days to search online, contact state lawmakers, and automatically determine that they weren’t eligible. Hill, a Sacramento-based disability activist who lives on SSDI for $ 1,027 a month, will ultimately qualify for his freelance writing and speaking last year, not the disabled. I suspected.

Hill needs to file a tax return. They have not done this for years because their earned income is far below the registration requirements. You decided it was worth it. Their costs have skyrocketed during the pandemic, particularly as their immunodeficiency means they chose to deliver groceries rather than shop in stores.

Hill said he was fortunate to have a friend who, unlike many people with disabilities, had access to the internet and helped him file tax returns. They were fortunate enough to have been able to work for the past year despite constant pain and discomfort due to an inflammatory condition called axial spondyloarthritis. However, they said it was wrong to say that the Golden State Stimulus Program “is based on the worth of people with disabilities based on their ability to work.”

When Newsom proposed a second round of golden state incentives for the middle class in California in May, Hill expected other SSDI recipients to ultimately benefit as well. However, when the details of Newsom’s plans emerged, there was still no mention of SSDI recipients.

“It’s really hard to see Newsom’s coverage or read how great this is for the middle class,” said Hill. People with disabilities are among the “poorest people in the country”.

The financial burden can fall on the caretaker

Sydney Chandler manages the finances and medical care of his paralyzed cousin, Chris Battiste. Batiste breathes through the device and communicates with Chandler via laptops, blinking and head movements.

Los Angeles-based writer Chandler said he was glad to know SSDI recipients were left behind by government stimuli. Another obstacle to an arbitrary and bureaucratic maze for them was that people with disabilities were trying to make a living.

Caretakers often carry a huge financial burden. Batiste received $ 975 a month for SSDI, and Chandler said he would donate more than $ 1,000 a month to cover rent and full-time care.

“Without me he would be one of the homeless and did he say he couldn’t set up a portal for SSDI (recipients) to enter information?”

Jackie Botts is a reporter for Cal Matters. This article is part of California Divide, a collaboration between newsrooms studying income inequality and financial survival in California.

Many disabled Californians feel comfortable with Gov’s Golden State Stimulus Program. Newsom Abandoned Many disabled Californians feel comfortable with Gov.’s Golden State Stimulus Program. Newsom let down

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