Aid to Elderly and Disabled to Be Cut
RECENT NEWS (September 30):
A lawsuit filed by the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute temporarily halted the implementation of the cuts described below. The ruling requires the benefits to remain at the current level until the funds appropriated by the Legislature are exhausted. At that point, either more drastic cuts would be implemented or the Legislature would be required to appropriate additional funding. Democratic Party legislators have been active in seeking to blame Governor Romney for the cuts. But so far legislators have refused to appropriate any additional money. A supplemental budget may be brought forward that could contain additional funds. It is important for people to contact their legislators and tell them that they must appropriate additional funds for this program.
The Romney Administration has notified the Legislature that it will cut the monthly EAEDC grant provided to elders, people with disabilities and some children by 11.5% on September 1, 2003 in order to address a projected $4.8 million deficit in the line item (4408-1000). This comes on top of a grant cut made in the FY04 budget which eliminated the $35/month rent supplement for recipients living in unsubsidized housing. House and Senate Ways and Means are aware of the projected deficit and have the issue under consideration.
CALL TO ACTION from Mass. Coalition for the Homeless
We need your help to prevent this cut from taking effect on September 1st!
1) Call Ronald Preston, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, (617)727-7600. Ask him to delay the implementation of this cut and give the legislature time to consider and act on supplemental funding.
2) Call Thomas Finneran, Speaker, House of Representatives (617) 722-2500 and John Rogers, Chairman, House Ways and Means Committee (617) 722-2990. Ask them to pass supplemental funding for EAEDC to stop the September 1st grant cut.
Please Call Today. Time is of the essence. Please e-mail Leslie Lawrence at the Mass. Coalition for the Homeless, [email protected] to let us know what you have done.
ABOUT THE EMERGENCY AID PROGRAM
What is the EAEDC Program?
* The Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) program is a program of last resort, which helps very low income people who meet disability or other categorical eligibility criteria to cover their basic needs.
* Currently, the maximum EAEDC grant is only $303 month – less than half the federal poverty level of $749 for an individual. The proposed cut will reduce the grant to $268/month.
* Nearly 17,000 people rely on this program for their monthly income including 13,000 persons with disabilities, 3,000 elderly individuals and some children and their caretakers.
* Many people receive EAEDC while they are waiting for federal disability payments. The state is reimbursed for the money it spends on recipients who ultimately qualify for federal SSI payments. In FY༿, $14.7 million in SSI reimbursements was returned to the general fund.
Why is the EAEDC Account Running a Deficit?
* The EAEDC caseload has increased by 1,694 people or 11% between July 2002 and June 2003.
* As a result of these increases, the account is under funded by at least $4.8 million for FYཀ.
* The specific reasons underlying this caseload increase are unknown, but it is likely due to the state’s faltering economy. The income and asset limits for this program are so low that if a person with a disability has a working spouse, income from the spouse’s job would make the disabled partner ineligible for the program. If a spouse loses his or her job, the disabled partner may then be eligible for help.
Where Will The Money Come From?
* The legislature should allow DTA to carry over the $3.5 million FY༿ surplus in the account into FYཀ to help address the deficit.
* The legislature should authorize DTA to retain up to $5 million of the approximately $14 million the state will receive in FYཀ in SSI reimbursements for EAEDC grants paid to individuals who ultimately qualify for SSI. (SSI Reimbursements now are returned to the state’s general account.)
For more information contact: Leslie Lawrence, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, 617-423-9162 x105, or Ruth Bourquin (x333) /Margaret Monsell (x304) at Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, 617-357-0700.