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Ohio cash assistance program terminated

Approximately 6,000 Ohioans will no longer receive benefits from the Disability Financial Assistance (DFA) program after the latest state budget went into effect in July. The program cost $9.6 million last year, a mere fraction of the state’s $34.5 billion general revenue fund budget. However, on July 1, they no longer accepted applications, and all current recipients will stop receiving payments at the end of the year.

The Disability Financial Assistance Program pays $115 a month to individuals unable to work because of a physical or mental disability. Additional requirements for eligibility are that they make $1,400 or less per year and does not receive assistance from other welfare programs.

As Ohio expanded Medicare coverage to increasing numbers of low-income adults without children, enrollment in the program declined, dropping from 16,800 in 2008 to 6,400 in 2016. The program originally had broader application, but was narrowed to apply to disabled individuals who applied for federal disability and were awaiting determinations.

The state would provide applicants with cash assistance, while they waited for approval or rejection. If an applicant received an approval, the cash issued during the wait time — often several months — would be repaid from future federal payments.

If the applicant received a rejection, they could continue to receive DFA benefits until they received a response to the appeal. The governor and state lawmakers say they eliminated this program because Medicaid managed health plans now expedite the usually lengthy process of applying for and receiving federal disability benefits.

State officials note that this change could lead to more Ohioans receiving federal disability benefits, as well as a two-month reduction in wait time. Medicaid managed care providers may be able to identify individuals that may qualify for Social Security Disability who were previously unaware of their eligibility.

Source: The Plain Dealer, “Ohio budget bill ended cash assistance program for people with disabilities,” Jackie Borchardt, Aug. 7, 2017

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