You can appeal termination of Disability Lifeline benefits

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.

Man with discouraged look on his faceKing 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 evonnez@solid-ground.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.

Baby Boost Information Fairs connect parents to valuable community resources

How do I know when my child has outgrown his car seat? Which household cleaning products are safe to use around my kids? What childcare options are available to me while I’m job hunting?

These are questions that all parents struggle to answer from time to time. But for mothers with young children living in emergency transitional housing and coping with the trauma of domestic violence, finding answers to some of life’s everyday parenting questions can often feel overwhelming—if not impossible.

Families connect to valuable health and safety resources at a previous Baby Boost Fair.

Residents of Solid Ground’s Broadview Emergency Shelter recently found the answers to some of these questions, as well as many more, when representatives from several local health, legal, environmental and children’s organizations gathered at the shelter last week for a Baby Boost Information Fair.

Baby Boost Information Fairs are “one-stop shops” that give parents—many of whom are facing hunger, homelessness or abuse—opportunities to connect one-on-one with dozens of service providers and free community resources for their children. Solid Ground’s Food Security for Children program partners with local food banks, community centers, transitional housing shelters and substance abuse treatment centers to put on about 10 Baby Boost Fairs each year.

Last week, Broadview residents were able to connect with representatives from the Environmental Coalition of South Seattle, Legal Voice, King County Public Health, Washington State Safety Restraint Coalition, Child Care Resources and Lettuce Link and learn more about programs and services available to them.

One Broadview mother came to the fair to find out when she should move her 2 ½-year-old son out of his car seat and into a booster seat. Another young mother was thrilled to learn about safe alternatives to harmful cleansers and detergents she had been using around her daughter. Another mom left with a new packet of cucumber seeds for the garden that she and some other residents have started out back.

Callista Kennedy, outreach specialist for King County Public Health, has been a presenter at five Baby Boost Fairs. She thinks the fairs are a great opportunity to make initial connections with families and put a face to the services offered.

“A lot of women here are in transition, so they may not need us at this exact moment,” she said. “But when their circumstances change, that’s when they remember us. We’ve already made the connection. The Baby Boost Fairs let them know we’re here when they’re ready for us.”

New Tenant Services website provides a wealth of information for WA renters

Can I use my deposit for my last month’s rent? My landlord is in foreclosure, do I have to move out? How do I access my rights as a renter?

There is an immense need across many communities for renters to become educated on their rights. It is important to not only know the laws, but how they work in real life, and what the best practices are in using them.

Solid Ground Tenant Services has created an online tool to answer the many questions renters face across Washington State: www.solid-ground.org/Tenant

This website contains volumes of information on renters’ rights for Washington State residents. The entire website can be accessed by a convenient index on the left hand side of the page. Understanding the eviction process, getting a repair completed in your apartment, exactly how much a landlord can charge in screening fees for a housing application, and much more is covered. Not only that, we have included sample letters, direct links to the letter of the law, outside links to other tenants’ rights information, and a comprehensive resource page for renters. And at the end of most topic sections, there are extensive FAQs sections with convenient links that allow the reader to jump back and forth between questions.

However, just knowing the laws is not enough; becoming aware of the best practices in using them is essential for all renters to protect themselves from abuse or retaliation.

If you are a renter and have a question, you can save time before calling Solid Ground’s tenant hotline by looking for an answer on our website where it is likely you will find the topic that concerns you.

Of course, nothing can substitute sound legal advice from an attorney. It should be noted this website is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Please look to our legal assistance guide if you are in need of an attorney.

The Tenant Services website is the product of years of Tenant Counseling staff experience, with Emily Paddison, a former Tenants’ Union organizer, taking the lead in its development. Much credit is also due our Web Developer, Chris Fuka, and our staff Web Administrator, Liz Reed Hawk, for making the website incredibly user-friendly.

Click away!

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