Not Cool: Effective September 1, 2010, thousands of Washington State residents will lose their Disability Lifeline (formerly called GAU or General Assistance-Unemployable) benefits from the state.
King County will be heavily impacted as more than 30% of Disability Lifeline recipients across the state live here. Benefits are being terminated due to a 24-month time limit approved by the legislature last session.
Disability Lifeline provides $339 in cash and medical benefits to people with very low incomes who are unable to work due to a temporary physical or mental health disability. For the first time, Disability Lifeline sets a time limit on receipt of benefits to 24 months in the past 60 months.
Termination can be appealed
If you or someone you know has received a termination notice, you have the right to appeal! But you must file your appeal by the end of the month you receive your notification in order to keep getting your benefits! For instance, if your termination notice is dated in August 2010 you have only until August 31 to file your appeal and keep benefits until the hearing decision. You can still file an appeal later — up to 90 days after your notice — but you will not continue to receive benefits while you wait.
The best way to file an appeal is to go to your local DSHS office. Turn in a written hearing request. Keep a copy! Have DSHS stamp your copy with the date received. Keep this as your proof of submitting your appeal.
If you cannot go in to a DSHS office in person by August 31, call DSHS. Be sure to speak to a person, not just a voicemail box. Write notes about your conversation including the name of the person you are speaking to and the date and time of your call. Keep these notes as your proof of your appeal. Ask for a “fair hearing” for your benefit termination. Ask the DSHS worker on the phone to make the written request to the hearings office for you.
You can also file your appeal through a combination of faxing and mailing the original on the same date. Use the fax number and address listed on the hearing form. Keep a copy of the appeal request, and keep the proof of the fax transmittal. It is safer if you can mail the original via certified mail with a return receipt.
In order to win your hearing, you may need to collect and bring medical and other evidence showing that you qualify as disabled under the SSI disability standards.
If you lose your hearing, any benefits that have been continued will stop and you will have to repay up to two months worth of benefits.
After you file your appeal, seek legal help. In King County you can call 2.1.1 or contact Solid Ground’s Family Assistance attorneys at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.694.6742.
In all other counties call CLEAR at 1.888.201.1014 to speak to an advocate.
Thanks to WashingtonLawHelp.org for this info! Additional information is available online: Washington LawHelp.