Advice and Guidance for Reach-Up
The SILC is pleased to have offered advice and guidance with regard to a budgetary consideration affecting the State Reach-Up program.
Recently, the Administration proposed the elimination of discounting (Social Security) Supplemental Security Income (SSI) of family members when determining financial eligibility for a State Reach-Up applicant. Comments by the SILC upon the matter reflected its serious concerns.
The SILC expressed its concern that such a change in State policy would penalize a family member with a disability or senior citizen. A person with a disability or elderly individual has special – even extraordinary – needs. SSI eligibility is based upon financial need; therefore, eliminating the discounting of such income raised serious equity issues, the SILC felt. In addition, if a two tier system were established (with an exemption for existing Reach-Up beneficiaries), as proposed, equity concerns were heightened.
The SILC also felt that, if such a proposal were to be implemented, expectations of cost-savings would not have been realized. Cost-shifting to other programs and services would have occurred as Reach-Up applicants are generally in dire need of crisis support.
The Reach-Up program, the SILC indicated, exists as temporary assistance to economically-challenged families; it allows families in such situations to embark upon the road to economic self-sufficiency and independent living with dignity and self-respect. Considering the further hardship to families and the cost-shifting implications entailed, the SILC felt such a policy change might have been unwise.
There also existed legal issues if such a change were implemented. This too was pointed out by the SILC, albeit with the caveat that it was not qualified to render legal judgment.
The Administration subsequently withdrew its proposal. The SILC hopes that its advice and guidance played a constructive role in reconsideration of the policy change. The SILC looks forward to working with the Administration on such matters in the future.