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IMPLEMENTATION OF HOUSE BILL 2782 REFORMING THE GENERAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM This presentation was prepared at member request by staff from the House of.

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Presentation on theme: "IMPLEMENTATION OF HOUSE BILL 2782 REFORMING THE GENERAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM This presentation was prepared at member request by staff from the House of."— Presentation transcript:

1 IMPLEMENTATION OF HOUSE BILL 2782 REFORMING THE GENERAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM This presentation was prepared at member request by staff from the House of Representatives. Disability Lifeline

2 Legislative Overview The 2010 Legislature passed HB 2782/ Security Lifeline Act, making significant reforms to the General Assistance program: - Changes the name of the program from General Assistance Unemployable to Disability Lifeline. - Implements time limits for the first time. - Requires participation in Chemical Dependency treatment and Vocational Rehabilitation programs when deemed appropriate. - Establishes an Early SSI Transition Project. - Creates a housing voucher program.

3 Time Limits 24 months in a 60-month period. Goes into effect September 1, Ends June 30, Retroactive- will affect approximately 3,000 clients in September who have been on for 2 years or more. Months during which a client received expedited benefits or aged, blind, disabled benefits do not count towards the time limit. Case reviews:  By July 1, 2010, DSHS must review all cases of clients who have received benefits for at least 20 months as of that date.  By September 1, 2010, DSHS must review all cases of clients who have received benefits for at least 12 months as of that date.  The review should determine if the client meets the federal SSI disability standard or whether the receipt of additional services could lead to employability.  No client can be terminated from benefits due to time limit unless a case review has been completed.

4 Client Participation Chemical Dependency treatment If an assessment by a chemical dependency counselor determines a need for drug or alcohol treatment, the client must be given high priority for enrollment in treatment. However, first priority must be given to pregnant women and parents of young children. Clients who are assessed as needing chemical dependency treatment must participate in order to remain eligible for Disability Lifeline benefits, unless good cause can be found which prevents them from participating. If a client is actively engaged in treatment at the time they are terminated from benefits due to the time limit, they will be allowed to complete their treatment. $2.2 million in additional funding is provided to DSHS/ Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse to ensure access to treatment.

5 Client Participation (cont.) Vocational Rehabilitation By December 1, 2010, the Economic Services Administration (ESA) in conjunction with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), must develop an assessment tool to determine if the programs offered by DVR could help DL clients return to the workforce. ESA must use the assessment tool to assess every client after January 1, Clients who are assessed as benefiting from vocational rehabilitation services AND are determined eligible by DVR, must participate in order to remain eligible for Disability Lifeline cash grant, or housing voucher and monthly stipend. If a client refuses to participate or does not complete the program, their cash benefit or housing voucher/monthly stipend is terminated, but they will continue to be eligible for medical and food benefits.

6 Early SSI Transition Project The Early SSI Transition Project (ESSIT) is intended to speed the transition of DL clients who meet the federal SSI disability standard to Medicaid/DL expedited and ultimately, SSI benefits. Implementation Begins with King, Pierce, Spokane counties by July 1, Goes statewide by October 1, DSHS is required to enter into a performance-based contract for this project. Initial focus is on clients who have been receiving benefits for 12 months or more as of Sept. 1, Performance goals Disability Lifeline clients should be screened within 30 days of entry to the program to determine the likelihood of transfer to DL-expedited and Medicaid. 75% of DL clients that are likely to qualify for SSI must be transferred to DL-Expedited within 4 months of application.

7 Early SSI Transition Project (cont.) To meet the performance goals and better serve clients, there are steps in the incapacity exam process that could be improved such as: Screen clients at point of eligibility determination or shortly after to determine whether they are likely eligible for SSI. Manage the incapacity evaluations to provide timely access to needed medical and behavioral health evaluations. Assist clients with obtaining additional medical and behavioral health examinations needed to meet disability standard for SSI. Assist clients with submission of applications for SSI. Maintain a centralized appointment and clinical data system. Provide case management to support clients’ transition to SSI and Medicaid.

8 Housing Voucher Program A housing voucher program is established to begin to create stability and positive outcomes for the most vulnerable Disability Lifeline clients. This is the first attempt at creating a housing program connected directly to General Assistance/Disability Lifeline benefits. The voucher program will likely be an evolving program, phased in over time. Design of the housing voucher program: DSHS and the Dept of Commerce are required to jointly develop a housing voucher program. The Dept. of Commerce is responsible for: o Identify the current supply of private and public housing; o Identify new or additional housing supply opportunities; o Use supportive housing model to the greatest extent possible; and o Design the voucher system in a manner to ensure that the state can be reimbursed by the federal SSA for benefits received by those persons who transition to SSI.

9 Housing Voucher Program (cont.) Client participation in housing voucher program: Housing vouchers are to be offered to new applicants who are homeless AND have been assessed as needing chemical dependency or mental health treatment or both. Applicants who receive a voucher do not receive a cash grant, but instead receive a $50/ month cash stipend. Applicants must agree to accept the housing voucher in lieu of a cash grant as a condition of eligibility for the DL program. Applicants who refuse to accept the voucher will still remain eligible for medical benefits. Failsafe mechanism: The Department of Commerce can declare that the supply of housing is inadequate to meet the need for housing vouchers. Upon such declaration, applicants would receive a grant, rather than a voucher. If additional housing capacity becomes available, Commerce can trigger re-start of voucher program.

10 Referral to Veterans Benefits During the application process, DSHS must inquire if the applicant has served in the armed forces. If a client has served in the military, DSHS must confer with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to determine if the applicant is eligible for state or federal veteran’s benefits.

11 Overview Policy changeDescriptionCash grantMedical 24 month time limitA client cannot receive benefits for more than 24 months in a 5 year period – does not include months on expedited or ABD. Lose eligibility after receiving benefits for 24 months for remainder of 5 year period. Same as cash. Chemical dependency treatment If assessed as needing CD treatment, must participate in treatment as condition of eligibility. Lose eligibility if refusal to participate in treatment, unless good faith exception. Same as cash. Vocational rehabilitationIf assessed as likely to benefit from DVR programs and are determined eligible, must participate as condition of eligibility. Lose eligibility if refusal to participate. Client remains eligible to receive medical benefits regardless of participation Housing voucherNew applicants who are homeless and chemically dependent, homeless and mentally ill or have co- occurring disorders, must accept housing voucher and $50 stipend in lieu of cash grant Lose eligibility if refusal to accept voucher in lieu of cash grant, provided that housing is available Client remains eligible to receive medical benefits regardless of acceptance of housing voucher

12 Kim Justice Policy Analyst House Democratic Caucus Staff (360) Questions?


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