Help for the Disabled in Pennsylvania
June 8, 2009 6:27 PM   Subscribe

(Philadelphia) Pennsylvania filter: Tell me everything available to a poor disabled person in this state.

I would exclude anything easily found on the HHS or DPW websites but nah, tell me about anything you think is nifty. My friend in Ohio told me that her state paid for a computer and a $10,000 sewing machine so she could start a business. Another Ohioan was put through a bachelor's program fully funded by the state. People in other cities get housing through "housing choice" programs (but that list is closed here in Philadelphia and has been for years as long as I've been checking).

I already have:

- medical assistance through medicaid and medicare (although dental options would be great since Keystone 65 Complete doesn't cover it)

- Last year I used a UESF grant for utilities and must wait another year to receive one

- a psychiatric nurse who comes to my home so mental health is covered

- enough in food stamps

I know I could use:

- housing! live with broke parents (one of whom is disabled) and most of my SSDI check goes toward household expenses, and it's still more than I can afford, I must get out of here, but even if I had first, last and security I get turned down for apartments due to income

- utility assistance (because I live with my parents and one of them has a job, so while I dream of things like LIHEAP, the household income is always just a few thousand too much)
When I got the other grant, I had a lease signed by my father that reflected all the money I put into the household as rent and the fact that the utilities, while not in my name, are solely my responsibility
However, any other time I try this, I am told the utilities need to be in my name. I don't want to put them in my name and be responsible forever.

- money to pay off student loans

- any help paying for the next two years of college (getting my associates on Saturday, transitioning to a bachelor's program this summer/fall)

But those are just the mundane things I know I'd like in a perfect world. I want to know about everything anyone else knows. My income is about $10,000 per year from SSDI, I have nothing else, and no assets.

Thanks if anyone knows anything at all.
posted by Danila to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I know it didn't look that long in the preview, sorry!
posted by Danila at 6:30 PM on June 8, 2009

It would help to know what category your disability falls under. The programs out there often depend on the type of disability as to what kind of help they provide.
posted by ishotjr at 6:35 PM on June 8, 2009

How about an Antlerless Deer Permit to hunt? If you want to hunt deer, it frees you from the requirement to only harvest bucks with antlers. You also get a different season. Which greatly enhances your chances of actually getting some venison.

Plus, a disabled hunter in PA is allowed to hunt from a motorized vehicle--as I understand it, anything from your car to an ATV.
posted by Netzapper at 6:45 PM on June 8, 2009

It sounds like you know the system pretty well and have accessed a lot of resources, already. Also, it sounds like going to college and accessing housing through the university might be the solution to your housing woes, because as you're aware getting subsidies is really hard and sometimes the only real way for an individual without children to get one is to access it through the homeless system. Is your disabled parent receiving disability? If not, why not? Because that would be a big boost to the household income. Good on the UESF grant, that's a hidden gem a lot of people don't know about. Have you applied for CRP yet? You probably have, just throwing it out there. Feel free to contact me if you have specific questions, I'm not useful on the college money piece but I'm fairly ninja with social service resources in Philly.
posted by The Straightener at 6:52 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: ishotjr, mental disability

Netzapper, while I am not a hunter, that sort of thing is what I am looking for, thank you

The Straightener, I don't usually bother with grants like CRP because of the problem with bills not being in my name even though I pay them, but if I could speak to someone in person and find out my options it is better than dealing with utility reps over the phone (who are shockingly polite..and unhelpful, like they don't understand what I'm saying).

Could my welfare social worker help me with this sort of thing? She's a very bureaucratic bureaucrat and I only ask her for the bare minimum unless I KNOW it's within her purview. However, that sort of thinking may be causing me to lose out on opportunities so I will schedule an appointment with her if it would help.

The other disabled person does receive SSDI.
posted by Danila at 7:06 PM on June 8, 2009

Best answer: Don't expect much from your welfare caseworker, they have like 400 clients each on their caseloads and the services they provide generally reflect this. What neighborhood are you in? There's probably a neighborhood center like the Friends Guild or Lutheran Settlement House or Dixon House that would be a better place to find energy program advocacy. Also for housing stuff you can make an appointment with a counselor at the Tenant Union and see what options they have. You might also be able to access more resources through your mental health provider if they provide case management services in addition to community psych nursing.
posted by The Straightener at 7:19 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and to clarify, the CRP isn't a grant, it's a fixed budget system where you agree with PGW on a monthly amount you can afford based on your household income, usually an amount that is substantially less than the actual monthly bill. If you stick to the plan for a calendar year the difference between these amounts is erased. If you fall off the plan, they will then hold you to the full amount. But it sounds like since you manage the money, sticking to the plan wouldn't be a problem. One of the agencies I linked above would help you with the application, you can probably fill it out on your own and bring it home for the bill holder to sign and then return it yourself.
posted by The Straightener at 7:29 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Lastly, get with Liberty Resources, they are the biggest disability advocacy agency in the area. Their area is more physical disabilities and mental retardation than mental health, but they have a housing department and you should able to talk to someone there about housing strategies. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any more questions.
posted by The Straightener at 7:41 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You might also check out the Disability Rights Network. Their website has a list of publications as well as an intake line that you can call (or email) with questions.
posted by mcroft at 3:16 AM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

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