Report Title:

General Assistance

 

Description:

Places a twenty-four-month limit on general assistance to households without minor dependents with appropriate exceptions. Requires DHS to refer general assistance recipients to the aid to the aged, blind, and disabled program under specified conditions. Converts general assistance into an entitlement program. Takes effect July 1, 2020. (SD1)

 


HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

1098

TWENTY-FIFTH LEGISLATURE, 2009

H.D. 2

STATE OF HAWAII

S.D. 1

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

RELATING TO GENERAL ASSISTANCE.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. Section 346-53, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"346-53 Determination of amount of assistance. (a) [This subsection does not apply to general assistance to households without minor dependents.] The standard of need shall equal the poverty level established by the federal government in 2006, prorated over a twelve-month period based on family size.

The assistance allowance provided shall be based on a percentage of the standard of need. For exempt households and households in which all caretaker relatives are minors, living independently with minor dependents and attending school, the assistance allowance shall be set no higher than sixty-two and one-half per cent and no lower than forty-four per cent of the standard of need. For all other households, the assistance allowance shall be set no higher than sixty-two and one-half per cent of the standard of need and set no lower than thirty-four per cent of the standard of need. The standard of need shall be determined by dividing the 2006 federal poverty level by twelve and rounding down the quotient. The remaining quotient shall be multiplied by the per cent as set by the director by rules pursuant to chapter 91, and the final product shall be rounded down to determine the assistance allowance; provided that:

(1) The department may increase or reduce the assistance allowance as determined in this subsection for non-exempt households for the purpose of providing work incentives or services under part XI;

(2) No reduction shall be allowed that jeopardizes eligibility for or receipt of federal funds;

(3) Reductions in the assistance allowance shall be limited to no more than one per year; and

(4) No non-exempt household, which includes an adult who has received sixty cumulative months of temporary assistance to needy families with minor dependents, shall be eligible for an assistance allowance, unless authorized by federal regulations.

[(b) The director shall determine the allowance for general assistance to households without minor dependents based upon the total amount appropriated for general assistance to households without minor dependents, among other relevant factors.

(c)] (b) The director, pursuant to chapter 91, shall determine the rate of payment for domiciliary care, including care provided in licensed developmental disabilities domiciliary homes, community care foster family homes, and certified adult foster homes, to be provided to recipients who are eligible for Federal Supplementary Security Income or public assistance, or both. The director shall provide for level of care payment as follows:

(1) Beginning on July 1, 2008, for adult residential care homes classified as facility type I, licensed developmental disabilities domiciliary homes as defined under section 321-15.9, community care foster family homes as defined under section 346-331, and certified adult foster homes as defined under section 321-11.2, the state supplemental payment shall not exceed $651.90; and

(2) Beginning on July 1, 2008, for adult residential care homes classified as facility type II, the state supplemental payment shall not exceed $759.90.

If the operator does not provide the quality of care consistent with the needs of the individual to the satisfaction of the department, the department may remove the recipient to another facility.

The department shall handle abusive practices under this section in accordance with chapter 91.

Nothing in this subsection shall allow the director to remove a recipient from an adult residential care home or other similar institution if the recipient does not desire to be removed and the operator is agreeable to the recipient remaining, except where the recipient requires a higher level of care than provided or where the recipient no longer requires any domiciliary care.

[(d)] (c) On July 1, 2006, and thereafter, as the department determines a need, the department shall authorize a payment, as allowed by federal law, for resident clients receiving supplemental security income in adult residential care home type I and type II facilities, licensed developmental disabilities domiciliary homes as defined under section 321-15.9, community care foster family homes as defined under section 346-331, and certified adult foster homes as defined under section 321-11.2, when state funds appropriated for the purpose of providing payments under subsection (c) for a specific fiscal year are not expended fully within a period that meets the requirements of the department's maintenance of effort agreement with the Social Security Administration.

The payment shall be made with that portion of state funds identified in this subsection that has not been expended.

The department shall determine the rate of payment to ensure compliance with its maintenance of effort agreement with the Social Security Administration.

[(e)] (d) The department shall pay rental and utility (to include gas, electricity, and water only) deposits once only for any person eligible for financial assistance by the department. However, under extraordinary circumstances as determined by the department, an additional rental deposit, utility deposit, or both, may be granted.

[(f)] (e) Any recipient may petition the department for additional assistance when the recipient's need is due to emergencies caused by seismic wave, tsunami, hurricane, volcanic eruption, typhoon, earthquake, flood, or fire determined by the director to have caused losses as to require and justify additional assistance from the State. In addition, any recipient may petition the department for additional assistance for the replacement or repair of household appliances. The additional assistance shall be paid on an emergency basis, as determined by the department, to meet the cost of replacing or repairing household appliances. If the cost of repairs of household appliances is less than one-half the unit cost of the item, the department shall pay for the cost of repairs. If the cost of repairs of household appliances is one-half the unit cost of the item or more, the department shall replace the household appliance; provided that the replacement cost shall not exceed $350. For the purposes of this subsection, "household appliances" means a refrigerator or a range.

The department shall establish an emergency fund, not to exceed one per cent of total financial assistance from state funds required by this chapter in the previous fiscal year. The director shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 for determining in which cases to grant lump sum payments to recipients petitioning for additional assistance.

[(g)] (f) The department shall include protective child care payment as a special needs item in the financial assistance standard for cases of child neglect or abuse requiring placement of a child in child care. The referral for protective child care payment shall be from the department's child welfare program and the rate of payment shall be set by the department.

[(h)] (g) The director shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 to implement this section."

SECTION 2. Section 346-71, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"346-71 General assistance to households without minor dependents. (a) The department of human services is authorized to administer and provide state-funded public assistance to eligible persons who are disabled, who are not otherwise provided for under this chapter, and who are unable to provide sufficient support for themselves or those dependent upon them; provided that such persons:

(1) Have first been determined ineligible for a comparable federally funded financial assistance program;

(2) Are bona fide residents of this [State;] state; and

(3) Have furnished to the department a social security account number for each member of the assistance unit or verification that an application was made with the Social Security Administration for a social security account number for each member of the assistance unit.

Persons who meet the categorical criteria for eligibility, but fail to satisfy income and resource criteria adopted by the department shall not be eligible for general assistance to household without minor dependents. The failure of any adult member of the assistance unit to comply with the requirements or conditions of general assistance to households without minor dependents shall exclude the entire assistance unit from receiving financial assistance. However, when the adult member is disqualified for not meeting the work requirement, the assistance unit shall not be disqualified if the assistance unit was formed after the failure to meet the work requirement occurred. "Assistance unit" as the term is used in this section means persons whose needs, income, and assets are considered in the financial assistance payment and their dependents.

(b) For purposes of determining whether persons seeking assistance are bona fide residents of this [State,] state, the department of human services shall consider, but is not limited to considering, the following factors:

(1) Enrollment and receipt of welfare benefits from another jurisdiction;

(2) Physical presence in the [State;] state;

(3) Maintenance of a place of residence in the [State;] state;

(4) The availability of furnishings and household and personal effects sufficient to lead a reasonable person to conclude that the place of residence is more than a public accommodation;

(5) Qualification as to residence for purposes of voting in the [State;] state;

(6) Change in vehicle operation license;

(7) Vehicle registration;

(8) Enrollment of children in local schools; and

(9) Bank accounts in this [State] state or any other jurisdiction.

[(b)] (c) A person between eighteen and sixty-five years of age with a disability shall be eligible for general assistance to households without minor dependents for a period not to exceed twenty-four months if the person:

(1) Is determined to be needy in accordance with standards established by this chapter and the rules adopted under subsection [(e);] (f);

(2) Is unable to meet the disability requirements established by the federal Supplemental Security Income Program or its successor agency; and

(3) Is unable to engage in any substantial gainful employment because of a determined and certified physical, mental, or combination of physical and mental disability. Upon application, the department shall ask the person whether the person has a physical or mental disability, or both. If the person claims to have both a physical and mental disability, the department shall ask the person to choose whether the person's primary disability is physical or mental. Determination and certification of the disability shall be as follows:

(A) A determination and certification of physical disability shall be made by a board of licensed physicians designated and paid by the department. Meetings of this board shall not be subject to part I of chapter 92;

(B) A determination and certification of mental disability shall be made by a board of licensed psychologists or licensed physicians whose specialty is in psychiatry. This board shall be designated and paid by the department. Meetings of this board shall not be subject to part I of chapter 92;

(C) If a determination and certification is made that the applicant does not have a physical, mental, or combination of a physical and mental disability, prior to a denial of any claim, the department shall provide the applicant with an initial denial notice that gives the applicant at least ten calendar days to provide additional medical evidence. The notice shall refer the applicant to free legal services for assistance and permit the applicant to request extensions of time, if necessary;

(D) If a determination of physical, mental, or combination of a physical and mental disability is made, the person shall accept and pursue appropriate medical treatment from a provider of the person's choice. The department shall promptly provide the person with a complete and legible copy of the recommended appropriate treatment;

(E) Any person, to continue to be certified as mentally disabled, physically disabled, or both mentally and physically disabled, shall be reevaluated annually, as provided by this section, and more frequently, as required by the department; provided that after twelve months or upon the person turning sixty-five years of age, the department shall refer the person for eligibility under the aid to the aged, blind, and disabled program; and

(F) Failure to pursue appropriate medical treatment shall result in a loss of eligibility, unless the failure is due to good cause. Good cause shall include but not be limited to:

(i) Treatment is unavailable;

(ii) Personal emergencies; and

(iii) Circumstances that threaten the safety of the patient.

The department shall adopt rules in accordance with chapter 91 to define "good cause", as used in subparagraph (F), [in order] to determine when treatment is unavailable, what constitutes a personal emergency, what circumstances may threaten the safety of a patient, and other factors that may constitute good cause.

As used in this subsection:

"Substantial gainful employment" means at least thirty hours of work per week.

"With a disability" or "having a disability" means a disability that extends for a period of over sixty days.

Any person determined to be eligible under this subsection may be referred to any appropriate state agency for vocational rehabilitation services and shall be required to accept the services as a further condition of eligibility for the receipt of general assistance to households without minor dependents under this section. An assistance unit shall be determined ineligible for general assistance to households without minor dependents if any adult member of the assistance unit fails to cooperate with any appropriate state agency for vocational rehabilitation services after being referred for services. Any person found eligible under this subsection may also be required to seek employment and participate in public work projects, as described in section 346-31, and in public employment projects, as described in section 346-102.

[(c)] (d) Applicants and recipients shall be required to satisfy all applicable provisions of this section. Recipients disqualified for failure to comply with any of the requirements under this section shall be excluded from general assistance to households without minor dependents for a period not to exceed twelve months.

[(d)] (e) The allowance for general assistance to households without minor dependents shall not exceed sixty-two and one-half per cent of the standard of need.

[(e)] (f) Within the limitations of this section, the department shall by rules adopted pursuant to chapter 91, determine:

(1) The allowance for general assistance to households without minor dependents based upon the total amount appropriated for general assistance to households without minor dependents;

(2) A method for determining assistance amounts; and

(3) Other necessary provisions to implement general assistance to households without minor dependents.

(g) Any month in which a person receives assistance pending an eligibility determination for the federal Supplemental Security Income Program or a successor program shall not be counted toward the twenty-four-month limit."

SECTION 3. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2020.