Published October 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 9
by Sarah Eckhoff
In a budget-tight year, Governor Ritter announced last month that the state intends to cut the 7.1 million dollar Aid to the Needy Disabled Program (AND), leaving approximately 10,310 individuals without monthly support checks.
Established in 1953 by the Colorado General Assembly, AND acts as an “interim assistance program,” giving $200 each month to people who meet the requirements of need and disability and are waiting for their federal Social Security Benefits to begin. SSI applicants wait an average of 22 months for benefits to begin.
According to the Colorado Department of Human Services, an applicant’s disability must be medically verified by a doctor or physician and must last for more than six months; the applicant must be between the ages of 18 and 59, a citizen of the United States, a Colorado resident; must not exceed an individual resource limit of $2,000, or $3,000 for a couple; must apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits; and must sign a form saying they will repay AND benefits with SSI benefits they are eligible to receive in the same month. When the claimant receives SSI benefits, the Social Security Administration facilitates reimbursement of AND benefits to the State of Colorado.
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) is advocating against the governmental decision to slash the AND program. CCH believes that cutting a program with reimbursements is only a temporary fix that will hurt recipients in the short run and be ineffective to the budget crisis in the long run.
Karen Beye, Executive Director of The Colorado Department of Human Services, the agency that recommended this and other budget cuts, said that the department “had few options to consider for reductions,” and that “many individuals on this program are currently receiving food, housing and energy assistance and will continue to do so.”
CCH thinks otherwise, however. Even though AND recipients are generally eligible for Food Stamps, CCH says that in 2007 Colorado fell to 52nd (after Guam) nationally in timely food stamp processing. They also claim that energy assistance is limited, and approximately ten percent of recipients are in subsidized housing that requires a monthly payment. Since AND recipients are unable to work and have no financial assets, AND funds are used to meet their basic needs.
Mary, a recipient of AND funds agrees with CCH. Her AND benefits allowed her and her husband to get off the streets of Denver and into a small apartment. “Without AND we would be another homeless statistic,” she says. “There must be another way to cut the budget.” •