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Department Of Human Services Cutting Back Frequency Of Payments To Blind, Elderly, Disabled

Bill Weaver is president of Daily Living Centers.
Brent Fuchs
The Journal Record
Bill Weaver is president of Daily Living Centers.

In order to save $25 million before the start of Fiscal Year 2017 on July 1, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services has to make hard choices.

Each month, DHS sends out about 88,000 checks called state supplemental payments. They go to disabled Oklahomans, along with the elderly and the blind. The average payment is about $36.

But as of next month, DHS will only process the payments every quarter, meaning no more money will be doled out until July.

Gayla Tyler told The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt the money goes toward her water bill:

Tyler said it’s a big inconvenience because if one thing changes in the life of someone on a fixed income, everything else has to be shifted. “The water (utility) wouldn’t want to be paid quarterly,” Tyler said. “So I don’t want to, either.”

DHS also said it will begin shrinking the list of people who receive cash payments for developmentally disabled family members.

The agency has already offered voluntary buyouts to employees, who could end up joining the 1,200 others who have left DHS over the past two years because of the budget. Spokeswoman Sheree Powell says the agency is trying to protect the most vulnerable with its targeted cuts.

Denwalt writes:

It could still be disastrous, said Bill Weaver, president of Daily Living Centers. “I don’t think a lot of times individuals can understand that for these people, $5 means a lot,” Weaver said. “Yes, in three months they’re going to get the money and they’ll feel like they’re rich for a while, but the three months that they don’t get paid for will be very difficult.” Daily Living Centers is a not-for-profit adult day health services and independent living services provider. Weaver said that in his 28 years in the industry, this is the worst round of cuts he’s seen. “A lot of people who qualify for that program are not going to be able to obtain the funds, so I’ve got to figure out some way to get money for them,” he said. “It’s going to be very, very difficult. It could be a disaster in many cases. I would rather pay $4 a gallon for gasoline and not have this, but that’s not the way it is.”

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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