Lancaster Online: “Pa.’s unkindest cut gets one-month delay”

Pa.’s unkindest cut gets one-month delay
Jul 01, 2012
By GIL SMART, Associate Editor

Valerie Case was talking to a military veteran last week who received notice from the state Department of Public Welfare that his “General Assistance” monthly cash payment of $215 was being terminated. The vet, who had recently applied for Social Security disability benefits, was happy — thinking the state was cutting him off because Social Security had ruled in his favor.
Case, a paralegal at MidPenn Legal Services, broke the news gently: Social Security hadn’t ruled yet.

But Pennsylvania had, and the vet — and nearly 70,000 other Pennsylvanians who count on the monthly stipend — are being cut off.

The budget, signed by Gov. Tom Corbett last night, eliminated the $150 million General Assistance program, which since the Great Depression has provided cash assistance to single people. The program was initially slated to end today, July 1, but Democrats won a one-month delay so the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare can notify recipients — including 1,518 people in Lancaster County — that they will lose benefits.

Local social service providers are bracing for impact.

“We have a substantial number of clients who are going to be affected by this,” said Bob Thomas, president of Tabor Community Services in Lancaster. “People are very bewildered — they’re not sure what they’re going to do.”

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